According to Greek mythology, Aristaeus, the son of the god Apollo and the nymph Cyrene, was instructed by the centaur Chiron and the myrtle nymphs, Hermes’ daughters, to curdle the milk to make cheese, to build beehives and to plant olive groves in order to make oil. After the death of his son Actaeon, Aristaeus asked his mother Cyrene for a fleet of ships and set sail from Greece, heading northwest. As he approached Sardinia, he was struck by the wild beauty of the island and disembarked, soon to settle there. It was in his new land that he began to practice and pass on his knowledge of cheese making, beekeeping and olive growing.
Often, the heroes in Homer’s writings were also shepherds and usually ate the cheese and milk produced by their goats. In the Odyssey, Ulysses disembarks in Sicily where he meets Polyphemus, and he watches him in admiration as he milks sheep and goats, and then transforms the milk into cheese.
The Nuragic people also left a number of bronze statuettes bearing witness to their sheep farming. These include a bronze statuette representing a shepherd leading a ram by a rope, another depicts a man carrying a ram over his shoulders, yet another shows a hand holding sheepskins, and finally there is a bronze statue depicting a bull with nicked ears, su sinnu in the Sardinian language, an ancient symbol used to indicate ownership.