The Monkey and The Dolphin

Dolphin saved a Monkey from drowning and gave him a ride to Athens. Dolphin questioned Monkey about Athens and was lied to. Monkey got drowned after all.

Bragging, lying, and pretending, has cost many a man his life and estate.

Aesop For ChildrenAesop For Children

Monkey and Dolphin

Milo Winter (1919)

It happened once upon a time that a certain Greek ship bound for Athens was wrecked off the coast close to Piraeus, the port of Athens. Had it not been for the Dolphins, who at that time were very friendly toward mankind and especially toward Athenians, all would have perished. But the Dolphins took the shipwrecked people on their backs and swam with them to shore.

Now it was the custom among the Greeks to take their pet monkeys and dogs with them whenever they went on a voyage. So when one of the Dolphins saw a Monkey struggling in the water, he thought it was a man, and made the Monkey climb up on his back. Then off he swam with him toward the shore.

The Monkey sat up, grave and dignified, on the Dolphin’s back.

“You are a citizen of illustrious Athens, are you not?” asked the Dolphin politely.

“Yes,” answered the Monkey, proudly. “My family is one of the noblest in the city.”

“Indeed,” said the Dolphin. “Then of course you often visit Piraeus.”

“Yes, yes,” replied the Monkey. “Indeed, I do. I am with him constantly. Piraeus is my very best friend.”

This answer took the Dolphin by surprise, and, turning his head, he now saw what it was he was carrying. Without more ado, he dived and left the foolish Monkey to take care of himself, while he swam off in search of some human being to save.


One falsehood leads to another.

Townsend VersionTownsend version

A sailor, bound on a long voyage, took with him a Monkey to amuse him while on shipboard. As he sailed off the coast of Greece, a violent tempest arose in which the ship was wrecked and he, his Monkey, and all the crew were obliged to swim for their lives. A Dolphin saw the Monkey contending with the waves, and supposing him to be a man (whom he is always said to befriend), came and placed himself under him, to convey him on his back in safety to the shore. When the Dolphin arrived with his burden in sight of land not far from Athens, he asked the Monkey if he were an Athenian. The latter replied that he was, and that he was descended from one of the most noble families in that city. The Dolphin then inquired if he knew the Piraeus (the famous harbor of Athens). Supposing that a man was meant, the Monkey answered that he knew him very well and that he was an intimate friend. The Dolphin, indignant at these falsehoods, dipped the Monkey under the water and drowned him.

JBR CollectionJBR Collection

A Ship, wrecked off the coast of Greece, had on board a large Ape, kept for the diversion of the sailors. The ship went down, and the Ape, with most of the crew, was left struggling in the water. Dolphins are said to have a great friendship for man, and one of these fishes, taking the Ape for a man, came under him and, supporting him on his back, swam with him to the mouth of the Piraeus (a harbour in Greece so called). “In what part of Greece do you live?” demanded the Dolphin. “I am an Athenian,” said the Ape. “Oh, then, you know Piraeus, of course?” said the Dolphin. “Know Piraeus!” cried the Ape, not wishing to appear ignorant to the Dolphin; “I should rather think I did. Why, my father and he are first cousins.” Thereupon the Dolphin, finding that he was supporting an impostor, slipped from beneath his legs, and left him lo his fate.

L'Estrange VersionL’Estrange version

People were us’d in the days of old, to carry game-some puppies and apes with ’em to sea, to pass away the time withall. Now there was one of these apes, it seems, aboard a vessel that was cast away in a very great storm. As the men were paddling for their lives, and the ape for company, a certain dolphin that took him for a man, got him upon his back and was making towards land with him. He had him into a safe road call’d the Pyraeus, and took occasion to ask the ape, whether he was an Athenian or not? He told him, yes, and of a very ancient family there. Why then (says the dolphin) you know Pyraeus: Oh! exceedingly well, says t’other, (taking it for the name of a man) why Pyraeus is my very particular good friend. The dolphin, upon this, had such an indignation for the impudence of the buffoon-ape that he gave him the slip from between his legs, and there was an end of my very good friend, the Athenian.


Bragging, lying, and pretending, has cost many a man his life and estate.

1001Delphinus et Simius

Quidam maritimum iter aggressus, simium secum assumpsit. Cum ad Sunium, Atticae promontorium, pervenissent, tempestas ingens oborta est. Cuius impetu nave diffracta, natantibus omnibus, simius quoque natabat. Delphinus quidam interim, eum conspicatus et hominem ratus esse, protinus accedens, suum supra dorsum excepit ut salvum ad terram portaret. Ast ubi prope Piraeeum, Atheniensium navale, fuit, delphinus simium rogare coepit an genere esset Atheniensis. Id illo affirmante ac praeterea se claros apud illos habuisse parentes, eum rursus an etiam Piraeeum nosceret interrogavit. Tum simius, ipsum de homine loqui arbitratus, se maxima familiaritate cum eo iunctum esse respondit. At delphinus, tanto mendacio indignatus, excussum humeris simium in undis demersit.


Haec eos fabula carpit qui, veritatis ignari, alios decipere posse arbitrantur.

Perry #073