Tag Archives: Arion

Greece’s Naughty Octopus

21 Jun

A few months ago my father emailed me to tell me about his new pet.  In New Jersey, he tried to literally bring the ocean into our house.  He kept all sorts of salt water fish, starfish, shrimp, and sea horses in huge tanks that took up the length of our living room wall.  Now in Greece, he’d apparently fished an octopus out of the ocean.

Over the course of several weeks, he emailed me stories about his pet octopus’ silly antics.  It was a curious octopus, always watching him.  One day, though, the octopus grew despondent.  No amount of feta cheese improved his happiness.  My father decided it was time to release him back into the ocean.

Now you may remember that my father lives in the Peloponnesus in Greece, near where the Greek poet Arion, who sang and danced for the gods, was rescued by a pod dolphins after being kidnapped by pirates.

Currently, the Ionian Dolphin Project is studying dolphins of the non-mythological variety in a different region of Greece, the island of Kalamos.  Catalan biologist Joan Gonzalvo reported on the blog that he recently witnessed an octopus attach itself on top of a, um, rather sensitive, private area of a bottlenose dolphin.  With the octopus still attached, the dolphin leapt out of the sea, and the scientists got some awesome photographs.

Speaking of Catalan, don’t forget to check out the Human Tower events happening throughout New York.

 

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Gripster: Documentary Films, Dolphins & Pirates

11 Jul

Arion Riding a Dolphin, by Albrecht Dürer (ca. 1514; public domain)

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, Greek American photographer and film director Louie Psihoyos is the son of an immigrant from the Peloponnesus.  The Peloponnesus incidentally is where my immigrant family came from as well.  Whether it’s a coincidence or a matter of upbringing that Psihoyos was intrigued by dolphins, the Peloponnesus has a dolphin myth.

Arion, the poet who invented the song and dance (called the dithyramb) for the wine god Dionysus, was kidnapped by pirates while returning to Greece from Italy.  In an effort to save his life, Arion sang to the poetry god Apollo, before flinging himself off the ship.  His song attracted a pod of dolphins and one of them carried him to safety, bringing him to the sanctuary of the sea god Poseidon in Cape Tainaron.

A swashbuckling tale of pirates, wine, and poetry, you have to admit this is a pretty cool Greek dolphin myth!

It led me to study up on Cape Tainaron.  Also known as Cape Matapan, it is the southernmost part of mainland Greece.  It’s located in Mani, which reputedly has the world’s best extra-virgin olive oil, grown organically on mountain terraces, and is also known for its superior honey and syglino (pork with oregano, mint, and orange peel.)  There are also some stalactite and stalagmite caves, which are partly underwater, and can be visited by boat.

I’m putting Cape Tainaron on my to-do list for the next time I go to Greece.

For more on Poseidon, check out:::

Gripster: Portlandia, Hipsters, and Greek Myth

Gripster: 2011 Coney Island Mermaid Parade & Greek Mermaid Myths