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Gorgias in obedience to his brother's command began his story thus:—

When we had fasted now for three days and offered sacrifice upon each of those days, we were all resolved to sit up the third night and spend it in pastime and dancing. The moon shone very bright upon the water, and the sea was exceeding calm and still; this we saw, for we sported ourselves upon the shore. Being thus taken up, all of a sudden we espied a wonderful spectacle off at sea, making with incredible expedition to the adjoining promontory. The violence of the motion made the sea foam again, and the noise was so loud, that the whole company forsook their sport and ran together toward the place, admiring what the matter should be. Before we could make a full discovery of the whole, the motion was so rapid, we perceived divers dolphins, some swimming in a ring or circle, others hastening amain to that part of the shore which was most smooth, and others following after and (as it were) bringing up the rear. In the middle there was a certain [p. 34] heap which we could perceive above the water; but we could not distinctly apprehend what it was, till drawing near the shore we saw all the dolphins flocking together, and having made near the land they safely surrendered their charge, and left out of danger a man breathing and shaking himself. They returned to the promontory, and there seemed to rejoice more than before for this their fortunate undertaking. Divers in the company were affrighted and ran away; myself and a few more took courage, and went on to see and satisfy ourselves what this unusual matter might be; there we found and instantly knew our old acquaintance Arion the musician, who told us his name. He wore that very garment he used when he strove for mastery. We brought him into our tent and found he had received no damage in his passage, save only a little lassitude by the violence of the motion. He told us the whole story of his adventure,—a story incredible to all but such as saw it with their eyes. He told us how, when he had determined to leave Italy, being hastened away by Periander's letters, he went aboard a Corinthian merchantman then in port and ready to sail; being off at sea with the winds favorable, he observed the seamen bent to ruin him, and the master of the vessel told him as much, and that they purposed to execute their design upon him that very night. In this distress, the poor man (as if inspired by his good Genius) girds about him his heretofore victorious, now his funeral cloak, with a brave resolution to compose and sing his own epitaph, as the swans when they apprehend the approaches of death are reported to do. Being thus habited, he told the seamen he was minded to commit the protection of himself and his fellow-passengers to the providence of the Gods in a Pythian song; then standing upon the poop near the side of the vessel, and having invoked the help and assistance of all the sea Gods, he strikes up briskly and sings to his harp. Before he had half finished his carol, [p. 35] the sun set, and he could discern Peloponnesus before him. The seamen thought it tedious to tarry for the night, wherefore they resolved to murder him immediately, to which purpose they unsheathed their swords. Seeing this, and beholding the master standing with his face covered, he leaped into the sea as far as he could; but before his body sunk he found himself supported by dolphins. At first he was surprised with care and trouble; but by and by, finding himself marching forward with much ease and security, and observing a whole shoal of dolphins flocking about him and joyfully contending which should appear most forward and serviceable in his preservation, and discerning the vessel at a considerable distance behind, he apprehended the nimbleness of his porters; then, and not till then, his fears forsook him, and he professed he was neither so fearful of death nor desirous of life as he was full of ambitious desire to reach the haven of safety, that he might show to all men that he stood in the grace and favor of the Gods, and that he might himself believe more firmly than ever before in their being and goodness. In his passage, as he lifted up his eyes toward heaven, and beheld the stars glittering and twinkling and the moon full and glorious, and the sea calm all about her as she seemed to rise out of it, and yielding him (as it were) a beaten track; he declared, he thought God's justice had more eyes than one, and that with these many eyes the Gods beheld what was acted here below both by sea and land. With such contemplations he performed his voyage less anxiously, which much abated the tediousness thereof and was a comfort and refreshment to him in his solitude and danger. At last, arriving near the promontory which was both steep and high, and fearing danger in a straight course and direct line, they unanimously veered about, and making to shore with a little compass for security, they delivered Arion to us in safety, so that he plainly perceived and with thanks acknowledged a Providence.

[p. 36] When Arion had finished this narrative of his escape, I asked him (quoth Gorgias) whither the ship was bound; he told me for Corinth, but it would not be there very suddenly, for when he leaped out of the ship and was carried (as he conceived) about five hundred furlongs, he perceived a calm, which must needs much retard their arrival who were aboard. Gorgias added that, having learned the names of the pilot and master and the colors of the ship, he immediately despatched out ships and soldiers to examine all the ports, all this while keeping Arion concealed, lest the criminals should upon notice of his deliverance escape the pursuit of justice. This action happened very luckily, as if it were directed by the power of the Gods; for as soon as he arrived at Corinth, news was brought him that the same ship was in port, and that his party had seized it and secured all the men, merchants and others. Whereupon Periander commended Gorgias's discretion and zeal, desiring him to proceed and lose no time, but immediately to clap them in close prison, and to suffer none to come at them to give the least notice of Arion's miraculous escape.

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load focus English (Frank Cole Babbitt, 1928)
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