Some time ago, I wrote an introduction to river gods in Greek mythology. Today, I want to continue the theme with an exploration of wind gods in Classical myth.
Both the ancient Greeks and Romans recognized and worshiped beings that were essentially personifications of the wind. These wind gods played intriguing roles in many mythological stories.
According to Homer, who is credited as the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, there are four winds. However, the ancient Greek poet Hesiod claims only three in his Theogony. Let’s begin with Homer.
“So the winds drove this wreck over the deep,
East Wind and North Wind, then South Wind and West,
coursing each in turn to the brutal harry.”
(Homer, Odyssey, Book Five, lines )
The ancient Roman poet Ovid also wrote of the winds in his Metamorphoses.
The following translation from the Latin appears in The Metamorphoses of Ovid by Allen Mandelbaum.
“Yet he who was the world’s artificer
did not allow the winds to rule the air
unchecked, set free to riot everywhere.
(But while each wind received a separate tract,
it is still difficult to curb their blasts,
to keep the world, which they would rend, intact:
though they are brothers, they forever clash.)
Eurus retreated toward Aurora’s lands,
into the Nabataeans’ kingdom and
to Persia, where the rays of morning meet
the mountain crests. And Zephyrus now went
to shorelines warm with sunset, in the west.
To Scythia, beneath the northern Wain,
swept horrid Boreas. Incessant rain
and mists that drench the southlands opposite -
this was the work o f Auster. The god placed
above these winds the ether, without weight,
a fluid free of earth’s impurity.”
(Ovid, Metamorphoses, Book One, lines 58-)
Aeolus - In Homer’s Odyssey, Aeolus was ruler of the Winds.
Boreas - In myth, the North Wind was personified by Boreas.
Eurus - Typically, Eurus was associated with the East Wind in Greek myth.
Notus - He represented the South Wind.
Zephyrus - He was the god of the West Wind in Greek mythology.