BATTUS, the legendary founder of the Greek colony of Cyrene in Libya (about 630 B.C.). The Greeks who accompanied him were, like himself, natives of Thera, and descended partly from the race of the Minyae. Various accounts are given both of the founding of Cyrene and of the origin of the founder’s name. According to the Cyrenaeans (Herod, iv. 150-156), Battus, having an impediment in his speech, consulted the oracle at Delphi, and was told to found a colony in Libya; according to the Theraeans, Battus was entrusted with this mission by their aged king Grinus. In another version, there was civil war in Thera; Battus, leader of one party, was banished, and, on applying to the oracle, was recommended to take out a colony to “the continent” (Schol. Pindar, Pyth. iv. 10). In any case the foundation is attributed to the direct instructions of Apollo. The name was connected by some with βατταρίζω, (“stammer”), but Herodotus (iv. 155) says that it was the Libyan word for “king,” that Battus was not called by the name until after his arrival at Libya, and that the oracle addressed him as “Battus” by anticipation. This, however, would imply on the part of the oracle a knowledge of Libya, which was not shared by the rest of Greece (Herod. l.c.), and it is noteworthy that the name occurs in Arcadian and Messenian legends. Herodotus does not know his real name, but Pindar (Pyth. v. 116), no doubt rightly, calls the founder of the colony Aristoteles, while Justin (xiii. 7) gives his name as Aristaeus who was worshipped at Cyrene. Four kings named Battus, alternating with four named Arcesilaus, ruled in Cyrene (q.v.) till the fall of the dynasty about 450 B.C.
See R. W. Macan’s Herodotus IV.-VI. (1895), vol. i. pp. 104 seq. and notes.