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Mythology of the constellation Boötes

BOOTES, The Hunter has since early times been associated with country pursuits - as hunter, ploughman or herdsman. In Homer's Odyssey he is referred to as Wagoner or Driver of the Wain. However, since the seventeenth century the figure has been associated with the hunting dogs (Canes Venatici) charted by Helvelius.

In Greek legend, Bootes is seen as representing Icarius, an Athenian who was taught the secret of winemaking by the god Dionysius. Icarius then allowed some peasants to sample his produce, but his kindness back-fired. The men became extremely drunk and were convinced that they had been poisoned, so they killed Icarius and buried him. His daughter Erigone and was so overcome with grief when she found his body that she hanged herself. Zeus transferred her to the heavens as Virgo, Icarius became Bootes, and Maera, the dog who had led Erigone to her father's grave, became one of the dogs of Canes Venatici.

 

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