Oeneus and the First Wine of Mankind

by GreekCellar
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It would have been highly improbable that Greek Mythology would lack a figure whose name wouldn’t be associated with oinos, the greek word for wine (ancient Greek οἶνος). This figure, according to ancient Greek myth narrative, is Oeneus, responsible for making the first wine in the history of mankind.

Oeneus was the King of Calydon (according to some versions he was the grandson of Orestheus –the son of Deucalion-) and legend has it that his dog gave birth to a piece of wood, which when his boss planted it into ground the first vine sprung out and his son, Phytios, subsequently spread viticulture.

Be it as it may, it was Oeneus himself –according to another variation of the myth- who made the first wine. The king was informed by a shepherd under his command, Oristas or Staphylos (hence the greek word “σταφύλι” for grapes) that a goat from his herd kept on straying and returned full after having eaten the fruits of the vine.

Oeneus converted the berries of the grape into the first wine, which was named for him. The presence of a god being imperative in myth however, ancient Greeks made sure they put Dionysus teach Oeneus the use of wine.

As a matter of fact, Dionysus did not give away this knowledge to Oeneus without compensation. According to myth, the mythological king looked the other way and let his wife, Althaea, alone with Dionysus, since the god had set his eyes on her in an earlier visit to the kingdom.

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