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date: 02 March 2021

Aristaeuslocked

  • Alan H. Griffiths

Extract

Aristaeus, Greek culture-hero or demigod, with a bewildering number of associations. His imminent birth to *Apollo and the nymph Cyrene is prophesied by Chiron (see centaurs) in *Pindar, Pyth. 9. 59 ff., celebrating him as ‘a *Zeus, a pure Apollo; a delight to his friends, close escort of sheep, Hunter and Herdsman’. Scraps of evidence for his cult and myth link him to Phthia (see phthiotis), *Arcadia, and *Boeotia (where he was known as *Actaeon's father) and in particular to the Aegean island of *Ceos, where he was worshipped as the mediator to mankind of apiculture (see bee-keeping) and *olive oil and invoked as bringer of the cooling Etesian winds in high summer (Ap. Rhod. 2. 500–27, repeating the Pindaric titles Ἀγρέα καὶ Νόμιον, with schol. on 498; Callim. fr. 75. 33–7 Pf.). Virgil ends the Georgics by telling at length the story of how once all Aristaeus' bees died; his mother referred him to *Proteus for an explanation, and he was told that this was punishment called down by *Orpheus for the death of *Eurydice (1), who had been bitten by a snake when trying to escape Aristaeus' attentions.

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