The winds. They appear personified even in the Homeric poems, but at the same time they are conceived as ordinary phenomena of nature. The master and ruler of all the winds is Aeolus, who resides in the island Aeolia;1 but the other gods also, especially Zeus, exercise a power over them.2 Homer mentions by name Boreas (north wind), Eurus (east wind), Notus (south wind), and Zephyrus (west wind).
When the funeral pile of Patroclus could not be made to burn, Achilles promised to offer sacrifices to the winds, and Iris accordingly hastening to them, found them feasting in the palace of Zephyrus in Thrace. Boreas and Zephyrus, at the invitation of Iris, forthwith hastened across the Thracian sea into Asia, to cause the fire to blaze.3 Boreas and Zephyrus are usually mentioned together by Homer, just as Eurus and Notus.
According to Hesiod,4 the beneficial winds, Notus, Boreas, Argestes, and Zephyrus, were the sons of Astraeus and Eos, and the destructive ones, as Typhon, are said to be the sons of Typhoeus. Later, especially philosophical writers, endeavored to define the winds more accurately, according to their places in the compass.
Thus Aristotle,5 besides the four principal winds (Boreas or Aparctias, Eurus, Notus, and Zephyrus) mentions three, the Meses, Caicias, and Apeliotes, between Boreas and Eurus; between Eurus and Notus he places the Phoenicias; between Notus and Zephyrus he has only the Lips, and between Zephyrus and Boreas he places the Argestes (Olympias or Sciron) and the Thrascias. It must further be observed that according to Aristotle, the Eurus is not due east, but south east.
In the Museum Pio-Clementinum there exists a marble monument upon which the winds are described with their Greek and Latin names, viz. Septentrio (Aparctias), Eurus (Euros, or southeast), and between these two Aquilo (Boreas), Vulturnus (Caicias) and Solanus (Apheliotes). Between Eurus and Notus (Notos) there is only one, the Euroauster (Euronotus); between Notus and Favonius (Zephyrus) are marked Austro-Africus (Libonotus), and Africus (Lips); and between Favonius and Septentrio we find Chrus (Iapyx) and Circius (Thracius).6
Black lambs were offered as sacrifices to the destructive winds, and white ones to favorable or good winds.7 Boreas had a temple on the river Ilissus in Attica,8 and between Titane and Sicyon there was an altar of the winds, upon which a priest offered a sacrifice to the winds once in every year.9 Zephyrus had an altar on the sacred road to Eleusis.10
The winds were represented by poets and artists in different ways; the latter usually represented them as beings with wings at their heads and shoulders.11 On the chest of Cypselus, Boreas in the act of carrying off Oreithyia, was represented with serpents in the place of legs.12 The most remarkable monument representing the winds is the octagonal tower of Andronicus Cyrrhestes at Athens. Each of the eight sides of the monument represents one of the eight principal winds in a flying attitude. A moveable Triton in the centre of the cupola pointed with his staff to the wind blowing at the time. All these eight figures have wings at their shoulders, all are clothed, and the peculiarities of the winds are indicated by their bodies and various attributes.13
- Virgil. Aeneid i, 52 ff.
- Homer. Iliad xii, 281.
- Homer. Iliad xxiii, 185 ff.; comp. ii, 145 ff.; v, 534; ix, 5; Odyssey v, 295.
- Theogony, 378 ff., 869 ff.
- Meteorologica ii, 6.
- See the tables of the winds figured in Göttling's edition of Hesiod, p. 39.
- Aristophanes. The Frogs, 845; Virgil. Aeneid iii, 117.
- Herodotus. Histories vii, 189; comp. Pausanias. Description of Greece viii, 27.9.
- Pausanias. Description of Greece ii, 12.1.
- ibid. i, 37.1.
- Ovid. Metamorphoses i, 264 ff.; Philostratus. Imagines i, 24.
- Pausanias. Description of Greece v, 19.1.
- Hirt. Bilderbuch für Mythologie, 140 ff.
- Smith, William. (1870). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. London: Taylor, Walton, and Maberly.
This article incorporates text from Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology (1870) by William Smith, which is in the public domain.