ARISTAIOS - ΑΡΙΣΤΑΙΟΣ



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There shall she (ed. Kyríni) bear a son, whom glorious Hermes will take from his mother's womb and bear away to the enthroned Hours and to Mother-Earth; and they shall place the babe upon their laps, and drop nectar and ambrosia on his lips, and shall ordain that, as a delight to his friends among men, he shall be called immortal Zeus, and pure Apollo, and, as an ever-present guardian of flocks, Agreus and Nomius, while others shall name him Aristaeus.  [1]

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Aristaios 
(Aristaeus;Gr. Ἀρισταῖος, ΑΡΙΣΤΑΙΟΣ)
Pronunciation: ah-rees-TAY'-ohs.

Aristaios is the  son of Apóllohn (Apollo; Gr. Ἀπόλλων) and the nymph Kyríni (Cyrene; Gr. Κυρήνη). [2] He is one of the most beneficial of  deities. His name means "most excellent" or "most useful" (from ἄριστος [3]) He is the rustic God of bee-keeping, cheese-making, olive cultivation, and herbal knowledge. He is a protector of shepherds and flocks and is capable of averting drought and plague. Aristaios taught men how to hunt and is therefore known as 

Th

æ

ós

 Agréfs (Theos Agreus; Gr. Θεός Ἀγρεύς) the Hunter-God. He is also called Nómios (shepherd; Gr. Νόμιος) or Nomós (of the pasture; Gr. Νομός), and Alæxitírios (Defender; Gr. Ἀλεξητήριος).







The Life of Aristaios from Diódohros Sikælióhtis

We can gather all the major events in the life of Aristaios from the writings of Diódohros Sikælióhtis (Diodorus of Sicily; Gr. Διόδωρος Σικελιώτης), [4] the details of which are confirmed in the writings of many others:  

Ypsǽohs (Hypseus; Gr. Ὑψέως), the King of the Lapíthai (Lapiths; Gr. Λαπίθαι), was the son of the river-God Píneious (Peneus; Gr. Πήνειους). He had a daughter named Kyríni. She was a beautiful maiden who lived in the vicinity of Mt. Pílio (Pelion; Gr. Πήλιο). One day Apóllohn caught sight of her fighting a lion. [5] Apóllohn instantly fell in love with her; he seduced Kyríni and took her to Livýi (Libya; Gr. Λιβύη), founding there the city which he later named after her. 

Kyríni bore to Apóllohn a son. While yet a babe, Apóllohn took him to the Nymphai (Nymphs; Gr. Νύμφαι). [6] The Nymphai called the boy by three names: Nómios  (of the shepherds; Gr. Νόμιος), Agréfs  (Agreus or "hunter;" Gr. Ἀγρἑύς), and Aristaios. They taught him how to make cheese ("curdle milk" in the text) and cultivate bees and olive trees. Aristaios later taught these useful things to mankind, for which he received homage as befits the Gods. 

Aristaios then went to Viohtía (Gr. Βοιωτία) and married Aftonói (Autonoë; Gr. Αὐτονόη) the daughter of Kádmos (Cadmus; Gr. Κάδμος), by which he had a son, Aktaiohn (Acteon; Gr. Άκταίων), who, as the myth states, was torn apart by his own dogs because he angered the Goddess Ártæmis (Artemis; Gr. Ἄρτεμις).  

After the loss of his son, Aristaios obtained an oracle from Apóllohn to move to the island of Kǽohs (Ceos or Kea; Gr. Κέως). There was, at this time, a terrible plague through all Greece. When he arrived at Kǽohs, he made sacrifice on behalf of his countrymen, and since this offering occurred during the time of the rising of the Dog-star Seirios (Sirius; Gr. Σείριος), when the periodic Ætisíai (Etesian Winds; Gr. Ετησίαι) blow, the plague was believed by this means to have ended.

Aristaios left Kǽohs and returned to Livýi, but then moved to the island of Sardóh (Sardinia; Gr. Σαρδώ) where he settled, brought the formerly barren land into cultivation, and left two sons, Khármos (Gr. Χάρμος) and Kallíkarpos (Gr. Καλλίκαρπος).

Aristaios traveled to Sikælía (Sicily; Gr. Σικελία) and many places in Greece and elsewhere, teaching people a multitude of helpful things and he became a great boon to mankind. 

At some point, Aristaios went to Thraki (Thrace; Gr. Θρᾴκη) and met Dionysos, (Gr. Διόνυσος) who initiated him into his Mystíria (Mysteries; Gr. Μυστήρια). Aristaios then dwelt for some time near Mt. Aimos (Haemus or Aemus; Gr. Αἶμος) after which he was never seen again.

Thus concludes the account of Diódohros Sikælióhtis. 


Other Authors on Aristaios


Apollóhnios Ródios

Apollóhnios Ródios (Apollonius Rhodius; Gr. Ἀπολλώνιος Ῥόδιος) says in the Argonaftiká (Argonautica; Gr. Ἀργοναυτικά), that Aristaios, who, when he grew and became a man, was taught the medicinal arts and prophecy by the Mousai (Muses; Gr. Μοῦσαι). [7]


Pafsanias
 
Pafsanías (Pausanias; Gr. Παυσανίας) gives the name of Aristaios as an example of mortal who was transformed into a God: 

"Nay, in those days men were changed to Gods, who down to the present day have honors paid to them--Aristaeus, Britomartis of Crete, Heracles the son of Alcmena, Amphiaraus the son of Oicles, and besides these Polydeuces and Castor." [8]

Vakkhylídis

In a fragment from the poet Vakkhylídis (Bacchylides; Gr. Βακχυλίδης), the author says that there are four Gods known as Aristaios, one the son of Kheiron
, and also an Aristaios who is the son of Kheiron's son Kárystos (Caristus; Gr. Κάρυστος), and yet another, the son of Apóllohn and Kyríni. And, finally, Vakkhylídis talks of Aristaios being the son of Yi (Ge or Earth; Gr. Γῆ) and Ouranós (Uranus; Gr. Οὐρανός), which implies that there is a primordial Aristaios, a vernal and rustic prosperity bestowed by the Gods from the very beginning. [9] Vakkhylídis was from Kǽohs where there was great love of this God. Aristaios lived on the island for some time as a king and deity, bestowing great benefits on the inhabitants.


Virgil, Aristaios, Evridíki, and the Bees

Virgil tells the story [10] that Aristaios had fallen in love with Evridíki (Eurydice; Gr. Εὐρυδίκη
), the wife of Orphéfs (Orpheus; Gr. Ὀρφεύς), and so distracted her in his pursuit, that he accidentally caused her to be bitten by a snake and die. This was the impetus to cause Orphéfs (Orpheus; Gr. Ὀρφεύς) to journey to 

Ai

dis (Hades; Gr. Ἅιδης)
 to bring Evridíki back from death. Because of this calamity, Aristaios was punished with the destruction of all of his beloved bees. He was distraught and his wailing upset the Nymphai (Nymphs; Gr. Νύμφαι), who informed his mother of his pitiful crying. She summoned Aristaios and implored him to find the seer and sea-God Prohtéfs (Proteus; Gr. Πρωτεύς). Following his mother's instructions, Aristaios inquired of the prophet, holding him captive until he submitted. Prohtéfs told him that he (Aristaios) had angered Orphéfs by causing Evridíki's death and that if he made a special sacrifice of four bulls and four heifers (and other details), he would regain his bees. Aristaios did exactly what Prohtéfs told him to do. On an appointed day, he was to return to the bodies of the victims which were now buzzing with numerous bees.  




The story of the birth of the GodsOrphic Rhapsodic Theogony.
We know the various qualities and characteristics of the Gods based on metaphorical stories: Mythology
Dictionary of terms related to ancient Greek mythology: Glossary of Hellenic Mythology.

Introduction to the Thæí (the Gods): The Nature of the Gods.


Epithets of Aristaios:

Agréfs - (Agreus; Gr. Ἀγρἑύς, ΑΓΡΕΥΣ) Agréfs is an epithet of Aristaios, common to rustic deities, meaning hunter (Pi.P.9.65).

Agreus - See Agréfs.

Cultor Nemorum - (Latin) Cultor Nemorum is a title of Aristaios meaning Forestor or Planter of the Groves. (Virgil Georgica i.14.) Servius, commenting on this line in Virgil's poem, says: 

Aristaeum invocat, id est, Apollinis et  Cyrenes filium, quem Hesiodus dicit Apollinem pastoralem. 

Translation: "He invokes Aristaeus, that is, the son of Apollo and Cyrene, whom Hesiod calls "the shepherd Apollo.' " [2]

(Isíodos (Hesiod; Gr. Ἡσίοδος) Yinaikóhn Katálogos (Catalog of Women; Gr. Γυναικῶν Κατάλογος), Frag. 93Servius on Vergil, Georg. i. 14. Trans. Hugh G. Evelyn-White, 1914. We are using the 1936 Loeb Classical Library edition published by Harvard Univ. Press (Cambridge, MA USA) and William Heinemann (London, England UK), where this quotation may be found on pp. 212-213.) 

Nómios - (Nomius; Gr. νόμιος, ΝΟΜΙΟΣNómios is an epithet of pastoral Gods, i.e. of pastures and flocks, such as Apóllohn, Hermes, Aristaios, and Pan.
- Lexicon entry: νόμιοςαον: (νομεύς):— of shepherdsν. θεός the pastoral God, i.e. Pan; of Apollo, as shepherd of Admetus, Call.Ap.47; of Aristaeus; of Hermes; of Dionysus; of the Nymphs, Orph.H. 51.12but also, God of Lawof Zeus (ed. νόμος being Law). (L&S, edited for simplicity.)



NOTES ON ARISTAIOS:

[1] Píndaros (Pindar; Gr. Πίνδαρος) Pythian Ode IX  For Tælæsikrátis (Telesicrates; Gr. Τελεσικράτης) of Kyríni (Cyrene; Gr. Κυρήνη), line 59;  trans. by Sir J. E. Sandys, 1915; found here in the 1968 Heinemann [London]-Harvard [Cambridge, MA] edition, Loeb LCL 56, entitled The Odes of Pindar, where this quotation may be found on p. 279.

[2] Isíodos (Hesiod; Gr. Ἡσίοδος) Yinaikóhn Katálogos (Catalog of Women; Gr. Γυναικῶν Κατάλογος), Frag. 93. Servius on Vergil, Georg. i. 14. Trans. by H.G. Evelyn-White in 1914, but here quoted from the 1936 edition of Hesiod, The Homeric Hymns and Homerica, Harvard Univ. Press (Cambridge MA USA) and William Heinemann Ltd. (London England), Loeb Classical Library, where this quotation may be found on pp. 212 & 213:  

"...Aristaeus, that is, the son of Apollo and Cyrene, whom Hesiod calls 'the shepherd Apollo'."

Apollóhnios Ródios (Apollonius Rhodius; Gr. Ἀπολλώνιος Ῥόδιος) Argonaftiká (Argonautica; Gr. Ἀργοναυτικά), Book II, starting 506. Trans. by R.C. Seaton in 1912, but here quoted from the 2003 edition of Apollonius Rhodius The Argonautica, Harvard Univ. Press (Cambridge MA USA and London England), where this quotation may be found on p.137:  

"Cyrene, the tale goes, once tended sheep along the marsh-meadow of Peneus among men of old time; for dear to her were maidenhood and a couch unstained. But, as she guarded her flock by the river, Apollo carried her off far from Haemonia and placed her among the nymphs of the land, who dwelt in Libya near the Myrtosian height.  And here to Phoebus she bore Aristaeus whom the Haemonians, rich in corn-land, call 'Hunter' and 'Shepherd'."

[3] Lexicon entry for áristosριστος [], η, ον,  best in its kind, and so in all sorts of relations, serving as Sup. of γαθόςI. of persons, 1. best in birth and rank, noblest: hence, like ριστεύς, a chief2. best in any way, bravest. 3. morally best4. best, most usefulII. of animals, things, etc.best, finestIII. neut. pl. as Adv., ριστα best, most excellently. (L&S p. 241, right column)

[4] Diódohros Sikælióhtis (Diodorus of Sicily; Gr. Διόδωρος Σικελιώτης) Vivliothíki istorikí (Library of History; Gr. Βιβλιοθήκη ἱστορική) Book IV:81-82.

[5] Píndaros (Pindar; Gr. Πίνδαρος) Pythian Ode IX  For Tælæsikrátis (Telesicrates; Gr. Τελεσικράτης) of Kyríni (Cyrene; Gr. Κυρήνη), line 25

"Once did Apollo, the far-darting God of the wide quiver, find her without spears, wrestling alone with a monstrous lion..."  

(trans. by Sir J. E. Sandys, 1915; found here in the 1968 Heinemann [London England]-Harvard [Cambridge MA USA] edition, Loeb 56 of The Odes of Pindar p. 275)

[6] Apollóhnios Ródios (Gr. Ἀπολλώνιος Ῥόδιος) says that Apóllohn gave him, rather, to Kheirohn (Chiron; Gr. Χείρων) the Kǽntavros (Centaur; Gr. Κένταυρος): 

"Her (ed. Kyrini), of his love, the God (ed. Apollohn) made a nymph there, of long life and a huntress, and his son (ed. Aristaios) he brought while still an infant to be nurtured in the cave of Cheiron (ed. Kheirohn)." 

(Argonaftiká (Argonautica; Gr. Ἀργοναυτικά) Book II, line 508. Trans. R. C. Seaton, 1912; found here in the 2003 Harvard [Cambridge MA & London, England] publication entitled Apollonius Rhodius: The Argonautica, Loeb LCL 1, where this quotation may be found on p. 137)

[7] Apollóhnios Ródios (Apollonius Rhodius; Gr. Ἀπολλώνιος Ῥόδιος) Argonaftiká (Argonautica; Gr. Ἀργοναυτικά), Book II, 510:

"And to him (ed. Aristaios) when he grew to manhood the Muses gave a bride, and taught him the arts of healing and of prophecy..." (Ibid. Seaton, p. 137)

[8] Pafsanías (Pausanias; Gr. Παυσανίας) Ælládos pæriíyisis (Description of Greece; Gr. Ελλάδος περιήγησις), Book VIII Arkadía (Arcadia; Gr. Αρκαδία), II.4; trans. W.H.S. Jones, 1933; found here in the 1960 Loeb Classical Library edition, Heineman (London, England UK) Harvard Univ. Press (Cambridge, MA USA), where this quotation may be found on p. 353 of vol.III

[9] Vakkhylídis (Bacchylides; Gr. Βακχυλίδης) Fragment 44:

"Τινές τέσσαρας Ἀρισταίους γενεαλογοῦσιν, ὡς καί βαχυλίδης· τὸν δὲ Χείρωνος, ἄλλον δὲ Γῆς καί Οὐρανοῦ, καὶ τὸν Κυρήνης."

[10] Virgil Georgics 4.281-558.


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The story of the birth of the Gods: Orphic Rhapsodic Theogony.
We know the various qualities and characteristics of the Gods based on metaphorical stories: Mythology
Dictionary of terms related to ancient Greek mythology: Glossary of Hellenic Mythology.


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