1. A fabulous horse, which Poseidon begot by Demeter; for in order to escape from the pursuit of Poseidon, the goddess had metamorphosed herself into a mare, and Poseidon deceived her by assuming the figure of a horse. Demeter afterwards gave birth to the horse Arion, and a daughter, Despoena.
According to the poet Antimachus this horse and Caerus were the offspring of Gaea; whereas, according to other traditions, Poseidon or Zephyrus begot the horse by a Harpy.
Another story related, that Poseidon created Arion in his
contest with Athena. From Poseidon the
horse passed through the hands of Copreus, Oncus, and Heracles, from whom it was received by
2. An ancient Greek bard and great master on the cithara, was a native of Methymna in Lesbos, and, according to some accounts, a son of Cyclon or of Poseidon and the nymph Oncaea. He is called the inventor of the dithyrambic poetry, and of the name dithyramb.
All traditions about him agree in describing him as a contemporary and friend of Periander, tyrant of Corinth, so that he must have lived about B.C.E. 700.
He appears to have spent a great part of his life at the court of Periander, but respecting his life and his poetical or musical productions, scarcely anything is known beyond the beautiful story of his escape from the sailors with whom he sailed from Sicily to Corinth.
On one occasion, thus runs the story, Arion went to Sicily to take part in some musical contest. He won the prize, and, laden with presents, he embarked in a Corinthian ship to return to his friend Periander. The rude sailors coveted his treasures, and meditated his murder. Apollo, in a dream, informed his beloved bard of the plot.
After having tried in vain to save his life, he at length obtained permission, once more to seek delight in his song and playing on the cithara. In festival attire he placed himself in the prow of the ship and invoked the gods in inspired strains, and then threw himself into the sea. But many song-loving dolphins had assembled round the vessel, and one of them now took the bard on its back and carried him to Taenarus, from whence he returned to Corinth in safety, and related his adventure to Periander.
When the Corinthian vessel arrived likewise, Periander inquired of the sailors after Arion, and they said that he had remained behind at Tarentum but when Arion, at the bidding of Periander, came forward, the sailors owned their guilt and were punished according to their desert.
In the time of Herodotus and Pausanias there existed on Taenarus a brass monument which was dedicated there either by Periander or Arion himself, and which represented him riding on a dolphin. Arion and his cithara (lyre) were placed among the stars.