Icarius (Athenian)

In Greek mythology, Icarius (/ɪˈkɛəriəs/; Ancient Greek: Ἰκάριος Ikários) was a man from Athens who welcomed the god Dionysus.

Icarius transporting wine in a 3rd-century mosaic from Paphos


Icarus was cordial towards Dionysus, who gave his shepherds wine. The shepherds became intoxicated and killed Icarius, thinking he had poisoned them. His daughter, Erigone, and her dog, Maera, found his body. Erigone hanged herself over her father's grave.[1][2] Dionysus was angry and punished Athens with a plague, inflicting insanity on all the unmarried women, who all hanged themselves like Erigone did. The plague did not cease until the Athenians introduced honorific rites for Icarius and Erigone. Icarius was placed in the stars as the constellation Boötes.[3][4] There is a mosaic in Paphos, Cyprus, from a Roman villa from the mid 2nd century A.D. which is called "Dionysus House". The mosaic First wine drinkers describes Dionysus giving the gift of vine and wine to Icarius as a reward for Icarius' generous hospitality.[5] It was probably this Icarius whom Clement of Alexandria[6] referred to as husband of Phanothea, a woman who was believed to have invented the hexameter.[7]


  1. ^ Bibliotheca 3. 14. 7
  2. ^ Nonnus, Dionysiaca, 47. 34
  3. ^ Hyginus, Fabulae, 130
  4. ^ Hyginus, Poetical Astronomy, 2. 4
  5. ^ Kondoleon, C. Domestic and Divine: Roman Mosaics in the House of Dionysos. Cornell University Press, 1995, p. 177.
  6. ^ Clement of Alexandria, Stromateis, 1. 16
  7. ^ William Smith, Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, v. 2, page 558