Lore of the Constellations: Canis Minor

Like Canis Major, Canis Minor is often regarded as one of the hunting hounds of Orion.  They appear to follow him across the sky as the Earth turns.  However, Canis Minor actually represents Maera, a dog of Icarius, the famed wine maker.

In this story, Icarius was such a great wine maker that Dionysus, the god of wine and fertility, decided to pay him a visit and further teach him a few tricks in the wine making field. 

Well, whenever Icarius gave this new-and-improved wine to his fellow shepherds for tasting, they all quickly became inebriated.  Once they all awoke from their stupor, they blamed Icarius and suspected him of poisoning them. 

Maera, Icarius’s dog, ran howling to Icarius’s daughter for help as the shepherds attacked Icarius in his field. 

When they reached the wine maker, they found him dead.  In turn, both Icarius’s daughter and Maera the dog took their own lives in grief.

Zeus placed their images among the stars as a reminder of this unfortunate affair. 

To atone for their tragic mistake, the people of Athens instituted a yearly celebration in honor of Icarius and his daughter Erigone.

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