The monkey and the dolphin


Athenians have always been great travellers. For a time it was the fashion among them to take a pet with them on their travels, for company and amusement. Lapdogs and monkeys were among the favourites.

Once a man was returning to Athens from the East, travelling on a ship with his pet monkey. They came across a great storm, which caused the ship to capsize. Everybody on board scrambled for pieces of floating wreckage to hang onto, some tried to swim, and quite a few drowned. This monkey was not a very good swimmer, and he was thrashing about in the water, and he too would have drowned if he had not been rescued by a dolphin, who, believing him to be a man, took him on his back.

Once the storm calmed a little, the dolphin asked the monkey if he was from Athens. The monkey thought it would be best to pretend to be a man, so he told the dolphin that he did indeed come from a very distinguished family from the city of Athens.

“Then you must know the Piraeus,” said the dolphin. Now the Piraeus is the name the Athenians give to their port, but the monkey didn’t know this, and thought the dolphin was talking about a family.

So he replied: “Oh indeed, they are very good friends of mine! If you get me home safely, they’ll be sure to reward you handsomely!” This reply indicated to the dolphin that he had an imposter on his back, so he dived deep below the surface and the cheating monkey drowned quickly.

Aesop