Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Aristaios/Aristaeus - Ἀρισταῖος

*Note: Not to be confused with a god of a similar name, Astraios lover of Eos.

ARISTAIOS (or Aristaeus) was the rustic god of shepherds and cheese-making, bee-keeping, honey, honey-mead, olive growing, medicinal herbs and the Etesian winds which eased the scorching heat of midsummer. His name was derived from the Greek word aristos, "most excellent" or "most useful."

ARISTAEUS (Aristaios), an ancient divinity worshipped in various parts of Greece, as in Thessaly, Ceos, and Boeotia, but especially in the islands of the Aegean, Ionian, and Adriatic seas, which had once been inhabited by Pelasgians. The different accounts about Aristaeus, who once was a mortal, and ascended to the dignity of a god through the benefits he had conferred upon mankind, seem to have arisen in different places and independently of one another, so that they referred to several distinct beings, who were subsequently identified and united into one. He is described either as a son of Uranus and Ge, or according to a more general tradition, as the son of Apollo by Cyrene, the grand-daughter of Peneius. Other, but more local traditions, call his father Cheiron or Carystus. (Diod. iv. 81, &c.; Apollon. Rhod. iii. 500, &c. with the Schol.; Pind. Pyth ix. 45, &c.) The stories about his youth are very marvellous, and show him at once as the favourite of the gods. His mother Cyrene had been carried off by Apollo from mount Pelion, where he found her boldly fighting with a lion, to Libya, where Cyrene was named after her, and where she gave birth to Aristaeus. After he had grown up, Aristaeus went to Thebes in Boeotia, where he learned from Cheiron and the muses the arts of healing and prophecy. According to some statements he married Autonoë, the daughter of Cadmus, who bore him several sons, Charmus, Calaicarpus, Actaeon, and Polydorus. (Hesiod. Theog. 975.) After the unfortunate death of his son Actaeon, he left Thebes and went to Ceos, whose inhabitants he delivered from a destructive drought, by erecting an altar to Zeus Icmaeus. This gave rise to an identification of Aristaeus with Zeus in Ceos. From thence he returned to Libya, where his mother prepared for him a fleet, with which he sailed to Sicily, visited several islands of the Mediterranean, and for a time ruled over Sardinia. From these islands his worship spread over Magna Graecia and other Greek colonies. At last he went to Thrace, where he became initiated in the mysteries of Dionysus, and after having dwelled for some time near mount Haemus, where he founded the town of Aristaeon, he disappeared. (Comp. Paus. x. 17. § 3.) Aristaeus is one of the most beneficent divinities in ancient mythology: he was worshipped as the protector of flocks and shepherds, of vine and olive plantations ; he taught men to hunt and keep bees, and averted from the fields the burning heat of the sun and other causes of destruction; he was a theos nomios, agreus, and alexêtêr. The benefits which he conferred upon man, differed in different places according to their especial wants : Ceos, which was much exposed to heat and droughts, received through him rain and refreshing winds; in Thessaly and Arcadia he was the protector of the flocks and bees. (Virg. Georg. i. 14, iv. 283, 317.) Justin (xiii. 7) throws everything into confusion by describing Nomios and Agreus, which are only surnames of Aristaeus, as his brothers. Respecting the representations of this divinity on ancient coins.

AGREUS (Agreus), a hunter, occurs as a surname of Pan and Aristaeus. (Pind. Pyth. ix. 115; Apollon. Rhod. iii. 507; Diod. iv. 81; Hesych. s.v.; Salmas. ad Solin. p. 81.)

NO′MIUS (Noumios), a surname of divinities protecting the pastures and shepherds, such as Apollo, Pan. Hermes, and Aristaeus. (Aristoph. Thesmoph. 983; Anthol. Palat. ix. 217; Callim. Hymn. in Apoll. 47.)

Greek Name Transliteration Latin Spelling Translation
AgreuV Agreus Agreus Of the Hunt
NomioV Nomios Nomius Of the Pastures

The son of Apollon and Kyrene (Cyrene).

Apollon seduced Kyrene and removed her to Libya and turned her into a nymph; when Aristaios was an infant, Apollon took him to the cave of the Centaur, Kheiron (Chiron), for his education.

As a grown man, Aristaios became a favorite of the Muse who made him the keeper of their flocks; he was called Hunter and Shepherd because he was so skillful with all types of animals.

Aristaios’ affection for the nymph, Eurydike (Eurydice), caused her death and roused the ire of Eurydike’s sisters; as punishment for his impulsiveness, the nymphs killed all of Aristaios’ bees; he was able to appease the nymphs and regain his bees with the intervention of Proteus (the Old Man of the Sea).

When the Dog-Star, Sirius, rose in the sky and scorched the land, Apollon took Aristaios to the island of Keos (Ceos) so that he could use his powers of healing and prophecy to help the islanders; Aristaios gathered the inhabitants and made a great altar in order to sacrifice to Sirius and Zeus; as a result of Aristaios’ prayers, Zeus sent a cooling wind, called the Etesian winds, which lasted for forty days and continues annually when the Dog-Star rises in the Summer sky.

From: here
A minor god in Greek mythology, which we read largely through Athenian writers, Aristaeus or Aristaios (Greek: Ἀρισταῖος), "ever close follower of the flocks", was the culture hero credited with the discovery of many useful arts, including bee-keeping;[1] he was the son of Apollo and the huntress Cyrene. Aristeus ("the best") was a cult title in many places: Boeotia, Arcadia, Ceos, Sicily, Sardinia, Thessaly, and Macedonia; consequently a set of "travels" was imposed, connecting his epiphanies in order to account for these widespread manifestations.[2]

If Aristaeus was a minor figure at Athens, he was more prominent in Boeotia, where he was "the pastoral Apollo"[3] and was linked to the founding myth of Thebes by marriage with Autonoë, daughter of Cadmus, the founder.[4] Aristaeus may appear as a winged youth in painted Boeoptian pottery,[5] similar to representations of the Boreads, spirits of the North Wind.

According to Pindar's ninth Pythian Ode and Apollonius' Argonautica (II.522ff), Cyrene despised spinning and other womanly arts and instead spent her days hunting, but, in a prophecy he put in the mouth of the wise centaur Chiron, Apollo would spirit her to Libya and make her the foundress of a great city, Cyrene, in a fertile coastal plain.[6] When Aristaeus was born, Pindar sang, Hermes took him to be raised on nectar and ambrosia and be made immortal by Gaia. The Myrtle-nymphs taught him useful arts and mysteries, how to curdle milk for cheese, how to tame the Goddess's bees and keep them in hives, and how to tame the wild oleaster and make it bear olives. Thus he became the patron god of cattle, fruit trees, hunting, husbandry and bee-keeping. He also taught humanity dairy skills (including cheesemaking) and the use of nets and traps in hunting.

When he was grown, he sailed from Libya to Boeotia, where he was inducted into further mysteries in the cave of Chiron the centaur. In Boeotia, he was married to Autonoe and became the father of the ill-fated Actaeon, who inherited the family passion for hunting, to his ruin, and of Macris, who nursed the child Dionysus.

"Aristaios" ("the best") is an epithet rather than a name
For some men to call Zeus and holy Apollo.Agreus and Nomios,[7] and for others Aristaios (Pindar)
From: Wiki
Another story tells that at one time the bees of Aristaeus, son of Apollo, all died of a disease. Aristaeus went to his mother, Cyrene, for help; she told him that Proteus could tell him how to prevent another such disaster, but would do so only if compelled. Aristeus had to seize Proteus and hold him, no matter what he would change into. Aristeus did so, and Proteus eventually gave up and told him to sacrifice 12 animals to the gods, leave the corpses in the place of sacrifice, and return three days later. When Aristaeus returned after the three days he found in one of the carcasses a swarm of bees, which he took to his apiary. The bees were never again troubled by disease.

From: here
Aristaeus is one of the most beneficent hero-gods of ancient Greece. He taught many useful agricultural practices, and is also known to have averted a plague and tamed the heat of the dog-star by sacrificing to Zeus, who brought cooling summer breezes. His innovations included beekeeping, cheesemaking, cultivating olive trees and pressing them for oil -- gifts to humankind which earned him high honors. Also knowledgeable in healing herbs, horsemanship and prophecy, he once chained Proteus at his sea-cave to find out how to cure his sick bees. He later joined the retinue of Dionysos, and also became associated with the cultivation of vineyards. His name may derive from aristos (best) or astraios, starry.

Agreus (hunter), Nomios (shepherd)

Beehive, honey, mead, cheese, olives, olive branch, summer breezes (especially the Etesian winds)

Bees, sheep, goats, cattle, horses

Primary Cult Center(s):
Haimonia (Thessaly), Arcadia, Boeotia, Keos, Euboia, Kyrene (North Africa), Sardinia, Sicily

Unknown. However, Aristaeus first performed a sacrifice to Zeus Icmaeus and Aster Kuon (dog-star) to avert the summer heat on Keos sometime before Sirius rose in mid-July, and the priests of Keos repeated this tradition yearly. It's possible this ceremony also honored Aristaeus.

Ways to honor:
Keep honeybees, or a flock or herd. Taste honey. Plant an orchard, garden or vineyard. Make cheese. Hunt, especially with trained dogs or traps. Brew and drink mead. Relate star positions to agricultural cycles. Engage in permaculture. Join a Community Supported Agriculture co-op and help tend the garden. Have a feast with Aristaeus's gifts predominating. Learn about the constellations, and find Sirius in the sky. Appreciate summertime breezes.

For more information:
Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica
Bröndsted, Reisen, &c. in Griech. i. p. 40, &c
Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology
Diodorus Siculus, Library of History
Nonnus, Dionysiaca
Pausanias, Guide to Greece
Suidas s.v. Silphion
Virgil, Georgics

From: Neokoroi
Other Sites:
Myth & info

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