French Reimaginings of the Ancient Legend of Arion and the Dolphin: (Re)creations in Art, Words, Music

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The relationship between humans and dolphins has been a subject of interest since earliest times… This fascinating book explores first the classical background to Arion and his dolphin story and then its treatment by French literary and artistic figures who, in a variety of genres and forms, have recreated the story and brought out new meanings more appropriate to their particular times.”
-Chris Dearden,
Emeritus Professor of Classics,
Victoria University of Wellington ,New Zealand


"Dr. Thoron Hollard clearly demonstrated the exceptional depth and thoroughness of his scholarship in the field of classical French music and theatre. With this new book he has turned to a more obscure legend to show how Herodotus’s tale of the musician Arion, who was rescued by a dolphin after being forced overboard by mutinous sailors on a journey back to Greece, also served to inspire French and other European artists, poets, librettists and composers from the late 15th to the early 19th centuries. But since the works of these artists around the Arion legend are now largely little-known, this book is a timely and valuable contribution to rescuing some worthwhile pieces from oblivion."
-Dr. Colin Anderson, M.A., Ph.D. (French Literature), M.A. (Classics)
Senior Lecturer in French (ret.)
Massey University, New Zealand

" Hollard is thorough and meticulous in documenting every aspect of the legend's history and development. Beginning with a review of all the ancient written sources (most notably Herodotus, Plutarch, Ovid and Lucian) and of surviving iconography, he moves on to a discussion of French treatments arranged by category, supplemented by brief discussion of works from other European countries. The analyses are detailed and easy to follow, and he is careful to show how each version differs from the others. The differences cover quite a wide range: what Arion is wearing; which instrument he plays; whether and when he sings and on what subject; whether he devotes his art to the service of a god (or is even the son of a deity); whether he is in love; how many dolphins there are and at what point they show up; how much power Arion's art exerts over other humans, animals or natural phenomena, etc. He also indicates the type of symbolism that various writers or artists superimposed on the legend: Arion could represent anything from a political figure to a religious attitude to a glorification of music."
-Dr. Perry Gethner
Regents Professor and Norris Professor of French, Oklahoma State University

Table of Contents

Foreword by Chris Dearden
Note on Texts and Conventions
Part I Arion: The Legend and its Context
1. Arion and the Dolphin in Classical Antiquity
Aulus Gellius
2. Of Dolphins and Music
Dolphins and their Cultural Depictions
Ancient Greek Music and Arion the Poet-Musician
Part II The Legend of Arion in French Reimaginings
3. Arion in Visual Artworks
The European context
Arion in French Works
4. Arion in French Poetry
Du bartas
Sieur d’Arion
5. Airs in a Royal Ballet: Chastillon
6. Arion in Cantatas
Campra and Roy
Le Bailly
7. An Opera Libretto: Le Brun
8. A Complete Opera: Matho and Fuzelier
9. An Act in an Opéra-Ballet: Destouches and Roy

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