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Greek Gods and Goddess: Aristheus

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Aristaeus [the best] he was without doubt a personification of gods like OT- Samson, and GK, Herakles, the Roman, Hercules. And the Mayan upside-down god of bees, Ah- Muzen- Cab. Could there be any truth in such thoughts, let us consider his story.

His lineage

He is recorded to be the son of Apollo via the huntress goddess Cyrene, who was hunter goddess like her fellow Greek Artemis, or the Roman Diana, her story reminded me somewhat of the Old Testament figure of David, later known as King David, for it is said she gave great peace to her father’s cattle and no doubt his sheep, so in some respects she acted like a shepherd by ruthlessly hunting wild animals, and was reported to have wrestled with and killed a lion

And David said unto Saul,

“Thy servant kept his father’s sheep,
And (whenever) there came a lion or a bear
and took a lamb out of the flock,
I went out after him, and smote (struck) him,
and delivered it out of his mouth.
And when he rose against me,
I caught him by the beard,
smote him and slew (killed) him.

[1 Samuel 17-34]

One thing was for sure, Cyrene detested the chores normally associated with women. She was said to be the daughter of king Hypseus, who was a son of the River god Peneus by the naiad Creusa who was apparently a daughter of Gaia (mother Earth). However, Creusa is not listed amongst Gaia’ offspring, if she was born to Gaia, it would infer Gaia had union with a river god, probably Peneus, thus they were closely related. Naiads are river nymphs and normally not only barren, but very dangerous to mortal men, but not gods. Eventually Cyrene has a liaison with Apollo who took her to Libya and founded a city in her name, and she brought forth Aristaeus and Idmon.


Pindar tells us Hermes took Aristaeus to Gaia to be made immortal and he was fed on the nectar and ambrosia of the gods, later the myrtle nymphs taught him the mysteries and all the arts relating to agriculture, he was credited with the invention of many useful skills, including that of bee keeping, indeed, one day when he went to tend his hives, he found the bees were sick, and many dying, so he ventured to the spring of Arethusa, who advised to make altars on which he should sacrifice cows, but that he should leave the carcasses to rot, when he returned to them he found bees had made hives in them and swarms of bees arose from them.

We should take note that this was exactly what happened when Samson of the Old Testament slaughtered the lion on his way to the vineyards of Timnah, he left the dead lion to rot, and went home by a different route, but when he returned with his mother and father, taking his original course, not long after, he found a colony of bees had made a hive in carcass, he took some of the honey and shared it with his parents but did not tell them where he found it.

Aristaeus was pretended to have taught mankind many agricultural arts, cheese making, bee keeping, how to make the wild oleaster bear olives, the making of nets and traps for hunting, when he grew up he sailed to Boeotia from Libya and once there was taught all the sciences of Chiron the centaur and married Autonoe’ the daughter of Cadmus, by whom he fathered the ill-fated Actaeon.

Further travels

After consulting the Delphic Oracle, he went to Ceos where the people where suffering from the ill effects of the weather associated with ascent of Sirius the dog-star, which appeared just before the sun rose, apparently in early July. Aristaeus performed a nocturnal sacrifice to Sirius just before it appeared followed by a sacrifice at a mountain altar at dawn to the rain making Zeus, which brought the cooling Etesian winds, but he also found out that some of the Ceans misfortune was down to the fact that the murderers of Icarius were living amongst them, the culprits where soon apprehended and executed, and Zeus ordered the cooling winds to blow for forty days around that time each year, but the Ceans continued to practice the sacrifice Aristaeus had shown them just in case.

Aristaeus later went on a civilising mission to Arcadia and then settled in the Vale of Tempi, Thessaly for a time, while there it was recorded that he apparently chased Eurydice, the wife of Orpheus, who was bitten by a snake and died, but there seems no sense to it. Pherecydes of Leros, or Athens, pretended that Aristaeus was the father of Hecate, but that can only be in a metaphorical way, as she represented the harvested seed, and Aristaeus was credited with teaching men many agricultural arts, perhaps harvesting was amongst them.


It would appear to me that Aristaeus if a personification of the sun, but not the life-giving son, but that of autumn and harvest, for his teachings seem to be linked to those things that connected with harvest, for he was considered a patron of hunting, fruit trees, bee keeping and Husbandry, thus was in some respects a male version of his mother Cyrene, thus he has a connection to death, let us not forget Samson’s riddle,

“out of the eater, something to eat; out of the strong something sweet.” Judges 14-14. For,

Iamais grain ne fructisier
sin premier ne se mortise.
Seed never comes to fructose
until it has first mortified.

Samson is talking about the lion of Leo, the life-giving sun, who like Herakles he slays as his first labour, their actions bring about the end of the growing season and the start of harvest, the sun who had been nurturing and caring for barley, corn and wheat children, who are then dead, becomes the shepherd of cattle and sheep and the likes, while mankind enjoys the fruits of their labour.

Final word

Aristaeus, Samson, Herakles and Hercules are all personifications of the actions of the Autumn sun.