Aristaeus (ărĭstēˈəs) [key], in Greek mythology, son of Apollo and Cyrene, especially honored as the inventor of beekeeping. Aristaeus tried to violate Eurydice, wife of Orpheus. Eurydice was fatally bitten by a snake while fleeing him. As punishment, the nymphs, who had previously been his mentors, caused all his bees to die. However, he sacrificed several cattle in atonement, and from their carcasses new swarms of bees were generated. Learned in the arts of medicine and soothsaying, Aristaeus wandered through many lands teaching his skills and curing the sick. He came to be widely worshiped as a beneficent deity.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.