Dolphin - friend of Roman boy | Photo: dreamstime.com
Pliny the Elder in his work “Natural History” tells many amazing stories about the friendship of animals and people. In book IX we can read, among others about the fact that the dolphin is a friendly animal, as evidenced by the cited story of a boy from a poor family in Baiae.
The following events took place during the reign of Octavian Augustus (27 BCE – 14 CE). Once, a dolphin entered Lake Lucrine in Campania and befriended a boy who attended school in Puteoli. The boy called the dolphin “Simo” and regularly fed it with bread at noon. In time, the dolphin trusted the boy so much that at his command it could come at any time of the day. There was an unusual situation when the dolphin finally began to carry the boy on its back in the water to Puteoli and also back.
Unexpectedly, when the boy died, the dolphin tied to his friend came to the same place and died of longing. Pliny himself claims that it is an extraordinary story, however, it is confirmed by many sources.
Pliny the Elder, Natural history, IX.8.25
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