The name "Boötes" is at least 3000 years old, but in those ancient times the name most likely applies to the star Arcturus rather than to the entire group of stars we see today.
The Egyptians believed that those north circumpolar stars that never set over the horizon, were evil. And one of the most evil of these northern constellations was the Great Bear. Boötes, they believed, was placed in the sky to guard the Great Bear and see that she did no harm. The Egyptians pictured Boötes as a constellation they called the Hippopotamus.
The Greeks at one time also knew Boötes as the Bear Watcher, or Bear Guard because he seems to chase Ursa Major and Ursa Minor, the Great and Small Bears, across the sky.
Boötes is also called the Herdsman because is seems to hold the leashes of the Hunting Dogs, the constellation Canes Venatici.
Greek mythology has many stories about the origin of Boötes. According to one legend, Boötes is Arcas, the hunter-son of Callisto, the Great Bear. In another myth, Boötes was the son of Demeter, the goddess of agriculture. Boötes is credited with inventing the plow and was placed in the heavens his invention.
Both the Hindus and ancient Chinese regarded Arcturus as a pearl-star. In Chinese myth, a huge dragon was eternally chasing and trying to capture this star.