LINUS, one of a numerous class of heroic figures in Greek legend, of which other examples are found in Hyacinthus and Adonis. The connected legend is always of the same character: a beautiful youth, fond of hunting and rural life, the favourite of some god or goddess, suddenly perishes by a terrible death. In many cases the religious background of the legend is preserved by the annual ceremonial that commemorated it. At Argos this religious character of the Linus myth was best preserved: the secret child of Psamathe by the god Apollo, Linus is exposed, nursed by sheep and torn in pieces by sheep-dogs. Every year at the festival Amis or Cynophontis, the women of Argos mourned for Linus and propitiated Apollo, who in revenge for his child's death had sent a female monster (Poine), which tore the children from their mothers' arms. Lambs were sacrificed, all dogs found running loose were killed, and women and children raised a lament for Linus and Psamathe (Pausanias i. 43. 7; Conon, Narrat. 19). In the Theban version, Linus, the son of Amphimarus and the muse Urania, was a famous musician, inventor of the Linus song, who was said to have been slain by Apollo, because he had challenged him to a contest (Pausanias ix. 29. 6). A later story makes him the teacher of Heracles, by whom he was killed because he had rebuked his pupil for stupidity (Apollodorus ii. 4. 9). On Mount Helicon there was a grotto containing his statue, to which sacrifice was offered every year before the sacrifices to the Muses. From being the inventor of musical methods, he was finally transformed by later writers into a composer of prophecies and legends. He was also said to have adapted the Phoenician letters introduced by Cadmus to the Greek language. It is generally agreed that Linus and Ailinus are of Semitic origin, derived from the words ai lanu (woe to us), which formed the burden of the Adonis and similar songs popular in the East. The Linus song is mentioned in Homer; the tragedians often use the word atXivos as the refrain in mournful songs, and Euripides calls the custom a Phrygian one. Linus, originally the personification of the song of lamentation, becomes, like Adonis, Maneros, Narcissus, the representative of the tender life of nature and of the vegetation destroyed by the fiery heat of the dog-star.
The chief work on the subject is H. Brugsch, Die Adonisklage und das Linoslied (1852); see also article in Roscher's Lexikon der Mythologie; J. G. Frazer, Golden Bough (ii. 224, 253), where, the identity of Linus with Adonis (possibly a corn-spirit) being assumed, the lament is explained as the lamentation of the reapers over the dead corn-spirit; W. Mannhardt, Wold- und Feldculte, ii. 281.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)