As well as being a symbol of protection and salvation, a tattoo of a dolphin is also associated with good humour and represents the vitality of those who can regain their strength and overcome difficult times and the storms of life.
The dolphin is also a symbol of divination, wisdom and prudence, and is one of the most requested tattoo subjects for women…
The happy, energetic dolphin is one of the most intelligent and sociable mammals on earth, yet according to a Greek legend it is a repented pirate. He was transformed into an animal by the gods as a punishment and then became man’s friend, so he tried to save shipwreck victims. There are countless tales of men who have fallen into the water and been taken to safety by dolphins. As a result this creature has become a symbol of protection and salvation, a sort of “angel of the waters” that watches over us as we travel, even through the journey of life.
The dolphin in Greek mythology
According to a Greek legend, the pact of friendship between dolphins and human was sealed by the union of Poseidon, the sea god, with Melantho (daughter of Deucalion and Pirra), to whom the god introduced himself in the guise of a dolphin. That is why their son was named Delphos and he gave his name to the city of Delphi (where Apollo’s oracle was located), which he reigned over when Apollo came to take possession of it.
According to another legend, the origin of Delphi is also connected to Icadio, Apollo’s son. During a voyage at sea his boat was shipwrecked but a dolphin pulled him to safety and took him to the foot of Mount Parnassus.
It was here that Icadio founded the city he named Delphi, in honour of the dolphin that saved him.
The myth of Dionysus is also connected to another story about the friendship between dolphins and humans. During the course of his many adventures, one day Dionysus asked some pirates to tow him from Argo to Nasso, but he soon discovered they were hatching a plot to sell him as a slave. To punish them he turned their oars into snakes, covered the boat in ivy and paralysed it with vines until the pirates went mad and jumped into the sea, where they were transformed into dolphins. Since then they have been friends of man and saved them from the waves, in memory of the repented pirates they are descended from.
The Dolphin of France
“Dauphin” (Dolphin) was the title given to the heir to the throne in France. History shows that this name dates back to the Count of Albon (1095-1142), whose coat of arms depicted two blue dolphins in a yellow field, thus he was given the nickname le Dauphin.
It appears that the symbol was introduced by his mother, Matilda of Atheling, an English noblewoman who was raised by her uncle, the Earl of Cumberland, to whom she was very close. His coat of arms included a dolphin and so his niece adopted it for her own.
The title of Dauphin denoted the first born son of the royal family and the heir’s consort was called Dauphine.
A dolphin tattoo
As well as being a symbol of protection and salvation, a tattoo of a dolphin is also associated with good humour and represents the vitality of those who can regain their strength and overcome difficult times and the storms of life. The dolphin is also a symbol of divination, wisdom and prudence, qualities that together with its amazing speed have made
it the master of navigation.
The dolphin is one of the most requested tattoo subjects for women. Tattoo artists recommend that it is positioned on the shoulder or ankle. The website planet.com quotes Linest Frank, a New York tattoo artist:
“A dolphin is not at all banal or unfashionable. No tattoo should be dictated by fashion, it doesn’t matter if there are others around, the main thing is that we like it and it has a meaning”.
By Mary Tiussi
English tranlastion by Vistoria Edmenson