VIII[8arg] An incredible story about a dolphin which loved a boy.
THAT dolphins are affectionate and amorous is shown, not only by ancient history, but also by tales of recent date. For in the sea of Puteoli, during the reign of Augustus Caesar, as Apion has written, and some centuries before at Naupactus, as Theophrastus tells us, dolphins are positively known to have been ardently in love. And they did not love those of their own kind, but had an extraordinary passion, like that of human beings, for boys of handsome figure, whom they chanced to have seen in boats or in the shoal waters near the shore. I have appended the words of that learned man Apion, from the fifth book of his Egyptian History, in which he tells of an amorous dolphin and a boy who did not reject its advances, of their intimacy and play with each other, the dolphin carrying the boy and the boy bestriding the fish; and Apion declares that of all this he himself and many others were eye-witnesses. “Now I myself,” he writes, 1 “near Dicaearchia 2 saw a dolphin that fell in love with a boy called Hyacinthus. For the fish with passionate eagerness came at his call, and drawing in his fins, to avoid wounding the delicate skin of the object of his affection, carried him as if mounted upon a horse for a distance of two hundred stadia. Rome and all Italy turned out to see a fish that was under the sway of Aphrodite.” To this he adds a detail that is no less wonderful. “Afterwards,” he says, “that same boy who was beloved by the [p. 45] dolphin fell sick and died. But the lover, when he had often come to the familiar shore, and the boy, who used to await his coming at the edge of the shoal water, was nowhere to be seen, pined away from longing and died. He was found lying on the shore by those who knew the story and was buried in the same tomb with his favourite.” 3