Web Theoi
AIOLOS
 
Greek Name Transliteration Latin Spelling Translation
Αιολος Aiolos Aeolus Fast Shifting,
Sparkling (aiolos)
Ἱπποταδης Hippotadês Hippotades Keep Horses on Tight
Rein (hippos, tadên)

AIOLOS (or Aeolus) was the king of the winds who kept the stormy Anemoi Thuellai and Aellai locked away inside the hollow heart of the floating island of Aiolia. At the command of the gods he released these to wreck devastating storms. Since the Winds were often conceived of as horse-shaped spirits, Aiolos was titled Hippotades, "the reiner of horses," from the Greek hippos ("horse") and tadên ("reined in tightly").

Homer's wind-god Aiolos bears quite a few similarities to Hesiod's Ouranos--both are described as having six sons and daughers joined in wedlock, and both trapped the storm-winds behind a threshold of bronze. In the case of Ouranos, the twelve children were the Titan-gods, while the storm-spirits were the giant Hekatonkheires and Kyklopes.
Aiolos also bears a resemblance to Hesiod's Titan-god of the winds and stars, Astraios. Stesichorus apparently confirms this connection when he describes Aiolos Hippotades as the cousin of Iris Thaumantias ("the wondrous rainbow"). It should also be noted that the Greek words aiolos ("glittering"), aiolokhros ("spangled"), and astraios ("starry") were all adjectives applied to the starry night-sky (ouranos).

PARENTS

[1.1] HIPPOTES (Homer Odyssey 10., Stesichorus Frag 222B, Quintus Smyrnaeus 14.467, Ovid Metamorphoses 14.223, Diodorus Siculus 5.7.5)
[1.2] HIPPOTES & MELANIPPE (Diodorus Siculus 4.67.3)

OFFSPRING

[1.1] 6 SONS & 6 DAUGHTERS (Homer Odyssey 10.4, Quintus Smyrnaeus 14.467)
[1.2] IOKASTOS (Callimachus Frag 202)
[1.3] POLYMELA, DIORES (Philetas Hermes Frag, Parthenius Love Romances 2)
[1.4] ASTYOKHOS, XUTHOS, ANDROKLES, PHERAIMON, IOKASTOS, AGATHYRNOS (by Kyane) (Diodorus Siculus 5.7.5)
[1.5] ALKYONE (Ovid Metamorphoses 11.430)
[1.6] ARNE (Diodorus Siculus 4.67.3)

ENCYCLOPEDIA

AE′OLUS (Aiolos). In the mythical history of Greece there are three personages of this name, who are spoken of by ancient writers as connected with one another, but this connexion is so confused, that it is impossible to gain a clear view of them. (Müller, Orchom. p. 138, &c.) We shall follow Diodorus, who distinguishes between the three, although in other passages he confounds them.

1. A son of Hellen and the nymph Orseïs, and a brother of Dorus and Xuthus. He is described as the ruler of Thessaly, and regarded as the founder of the Aeolic branch of the Greek nation. He married Enarete, the daughter of Deimachus, by whom he had seven sons and five daughters, and according to some writers still more. (Apollod. i. 7. § 3; Schol. ad Pind. Pyth. iv. 190.) According to Müller's supposition, the most ancient and genuine story knew only of four sons of Aeolus, viz. Sisyphus, Athamas, Cretheus, and Salmoneus, as the representatives of the four main branches of the Aeolic race. The great extent of country which this race occupied, and the desire of each part of it to trace its origin to some descendant of Aeolus, probably gave rise to the varying accounts about the number of his children. According to Hyginus (Fab. 238, 242) Aeolus had one son of the name of Macareus, who, after having committed incest with his sister Canace, put an end to his own life. According to Ovid (Heroid. 11) Aeolus threw the fruit of this love to the dogs, and sent his daughter a sword by which she was to kill herself (Comp. Plut. Parallel. p. 312.)

2. Diodorus (iv. 67) says, that the second Aeolus was the great-grandson of the first Aeolus, being the son of Hippotes and Melanippe, and the grandson of Mimas the son of Aeolus. Arne, the daughter of this second Aeolus, afterwards became mother of a third Aeolus. (Comp. Paus. ix. 40. § 3.) In another passage (v. 7) Diodorus represents the third Aeolus as a son of Hippotes.

3. According to some accounts a son of Hippotes, or, according to others, of Poseidon and Arne, the daughter of the second Aeolus. His story, which probably refers to thus emigration of a branch of the Aeolians to the west, is thus related : Arne declared to her father that she was with child by Poseidon, but her father disbelieving her statement, gave her to a stranger of Metapontum in Italy, who took her to his native town. Here she became mother of two sons, Boeotus and Aeolus (iii.), who were adopted by the man of Metapontum in accordance with an oracle. When they had grown up to manhood, they took possession of the sovereignty of Metapontum by force. But when a dispute afterwards arose between their mother Arne and their foster-mother Autolyte, the two brothers slew the latter and fled with their mother front Metapontum. Aeolus went to some islands in the Tyrrhenian sea, which received from him the name of the Aeolian islands, and according to some accounts built the town of Lipara. (Diod. iv. 67. v. 7.) Here he reigned as a just and pious king, behaved kindly to the natives, and taught them the use of sails in navigation, and foretold them from signs which he observed in the fire the nature of the winds that were to rise. Hence, says Diodorus, Aeolus is described in mythology as the ruler over the winds, and it was this Aeolus to whom Odysseus came during his wanderings. A different account of the matter is given by Hyginus. (Fab. 186.)

In these accounts Aeolus, the father of the Aeolian race, is placed in relationship with Aeolus the ruler and god of the winds. The groundwork on which this connexion has been formed by later poets and mythographers, is found in Homer. (Od. x. 2, &c.) In Homer, however, Aeolus, the son of Hippotes, is neither the god nor the father of the winds, but merely the happy ruler of the Aeolian island, whom Cronion had made the tamiês of the winds, which he might soothe or excite according to his pleasure. (Od. x. 21, &c.) This statement of Homer and the etymology of the name of Aeolus from aellô were the cause, that in later times Aeolus was regarded as the god and king of the winds, which he kept enclosed in a mountain. It is therefore to him that Juno applies when she wishes to destroy the fleet of the Trojans. (Virg. Aen. i. 78.) The Aeolian island of Homer was in the time of Pausanias believed to be Lipara (Paus. x. 11. § 3), and this or Strongyle was accordingly regarded in later times as the place in which the god of the winds dwelled. (Virg. Aen. viii. 416, i. 52; Strab. vi. p. 276.) Other accounts place the residence of Aeolus in Thrace (Apollon. Rhod. i. 954, iv. 765; Callim. Hymm. in Del. 26), or in the neighbourhood of Rhegium in Italy. (Tzetz. ad Lycophr. 732; comp. Diod. v. 8.) The following passages of later poets also shew how universally Aeolus had gradually come to be regarded as a god: Ov. Met. i. 264, xi. 748 xiv. 223; Val. Flacc. i. 575; Quint. Smyrn. xiv. 475. Whether he was represented by the ancients in works of art is not certain, but we now possess no representation of him.

HIPPO′TADES (Hippotadês), a name given to Aeolus, the son of Hippotes. (Hom. Od. x. 2 ; Ov. Met. xiv. 224; Eustath. ad Hom. p. 1644.)

Source: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.


Homer, Odyssey 10. 1 ff (trans. Shewring) (Greek epic C8th B.C.) :
"[Odysseus tells the tale of his wanderings :] We came to the Aiolian island (nesos Aiolios); here lived Aiolos, son of Hippotas; the deathless gods counted him their friend. His island is a floating one; all round it there is a wall of bronze, unbreakable, and rock rises sheer above it. Twelve children of his live in the palace with him; six are daughters, six are sons in the prime of youth; moreover the king has given his daughters as wives to his sons. These all hold a continual feast with their dear father and much-loved mother; countless dainties are there before them, and through the daytime the hall is rich with savoury smells and murmurous with the sound of music. At night they sleep, each with his own chaste wife, on inlaid bedsteads with coverlets over them.
To their city and noble palace we now came, and for a whole month Aiolos gave me hospitality and questioned me on all manner of things, Ilion [i.e. Troy] and the Argive ships and how the Akhaians sailed for home. I duly told him all he desired; then in my turn I asked his leave to depart and begged him to help me on my way. Nor was he unwilling; he set about speeding my return. He gave me a bag made from the hide of a full-grown ox of his, and in the bag he had penned up every Wind (anemos) that blows whatever its course might be; because Kronion [Zeus] had made him warden of all the Winds (anemoi), to bid each of them rise or fall at his own pleasure. He placed the bag in my own ship’s hold, tied with a glittering silver cord so that through that fastening not even a breath could stray; to Zephyros (the West Wind) only he gave commission to blow for me, to carry onwards my ships and men. Yet he was not after all to accomplish his design, because our own folly ruined us.
For nine days and through nine nights we sailed on steadily; on the tenth day our own country began to heave in sight; we were near enough to see men tending their fires on shore. It was then that beguiling sleep surprised me; I was tired out, because all this time I had kept my own hands on the steering-oar, never entrusting it to one of the crew, for I wished to speed our journey home. Meanwhile the crew began murmuring among themselves; they were sure I was taking home new presents of gold and silver from Aiolos.
One of them would say as he eyed his neighbour : `What injustice! In whatever city or land he comes to, this man wins everyone’s friendship and regard. He is taking back a mass of fine things from the spoils of Troy, while we who have journeyed with him from the first to last are returning home all empty-handed. And now come these latest gifts that Aiolos in his hospitality had indulged him with. Come, let us look without wasting time. What are these gifts? How much gold and silver is there inside the bag?’
Thus the men talked among themselves, and the counsels of folly were what prevailed. They undid the bag, the Winds (anemoi) rushed out all together, and in a moment a tempest (thuella) had seized my crew and was driving them--now all in tears--back to the open sea and away from home.
I myself awoke, and wondered if now I should throw myself overboard and be drowned in ocean or if I should bear it all in silence and stay among the living. I did bear it and did remain, but covered my face as I lay on deck. My own ship and the others with it were carried back by raging storm (anemos thuella) to the island of Aiolos (nesos Aioloios), amid the groaning of all my company.
There we set foot ashore and drew water, and without delay my crews and I took our meal by the rapid ships. When we had had our portion of food and drink, I chose to come with me one man as my own attendant and one besides; then I sent up to the place of Aiolos, and found him feasting there with his wife and children. We went in and we sat down at the threshold by the doorposts, while the household asked in deep amazement : `Odysseus, how is it that you are here again? What malicious god has set upon you? Surely we did our best before to speed you upon your way, meaning to reach your own land and home or whatever place you might desire?’
So they spoke, and I said despondently : `Faithless comrades were my undoing, they and the slumber that betrayed me. But you are my friends; you have the remedy; grant it me.’
With these humble words I made my appeal to them. They remained in silence, except the father, who answered me : `Away from this island, away at once, most despicable of creatures! I am forbidden to welcome here or to help send elsewhere a man whom the blessed gods abhor. This return reveals you as god-forsaken; go!’
And with these words he drove me forth despite my pitiful lamentations. Then we sailed onwards sick at heart."

Homer, Odyssey 23. 309 :
"[Odysseus told Penelope of his journeys :] His coming to Aiolos, who received him gladly and sent him upon his way, though his homecoming was still barred by fate, and a tempest caught him up again and drove him in lamentation over the teeming sea."

Stesichorus, Fragment 222B (trans. Campbell, Vol. Greek Lyric III) (C7th to 6th B.C.) :
"Thaumantias [i.e. Iris, daughter of Thaumas], the cousin of Aiolos Hippotades."

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca E7. 10 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Odysseus went on to the island of Aiolia, of which Aiolos was king. Zeus had set him up as coordinator of the Anemoi (Winds), for both stopping them and stirring them up. After playing host to Odysseus, he gave him an ox-skin, in which he had tied up the Anemoi (Winds). He explained which Winds would be needed for sailing, and fastened the skin securely in the ship. So Odysseus, by using the correct Winds, had a good voyage, but as they drew near enough to Ithaka to see the smoke rising from the polis, he fell asleep. His comrades, in the belief that he carried gold in the skin, opened it and let the winds escape. Back again they went, captured by the Winds, but when Odysseus made his way to Aiolos to ask for a sailing breeze, Aiolos threw him off the island, saying he could not save him as long as the gods had other ideas."

Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 4. 762 ff (trans. Rieu) (Greek epic C3rd B.C.) :
"[Hera addresses Iris :] `Go to Aiolos, king of the Sky-born Winds, and to him too convey my wishes, which are that he should order all the winds of heaven to cease. The sea must not be ruffled by a breeze. All I ask for is a soft air from the west, till the lords [the Argonuats] in Argo reach Alkinous' Phaiakian Isle.’ . . .
She [Iris] went to Aiolos, the famous son of Hippotes (pais Hippotes), and when she had given him too her message, she rested her limbs, the errand done."

Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 4. 819 ff :
"[Hera addressses Thetis :] `I have little doubt that Hephaistos and Aiolos will do what I have told them . . . Aiolos will hold his gusty winds in check, letting none but soft Zephyros (the West Wind) blow till Argo reaches a Phaiakian port.'"

Callimachus, Fragment 202 (from Tzetzes on Lycophron 54) (trans. Mair) (Greek poet C3rd B.C.) :
"Leaving Rhegion [in southern Italy], [one comes to] the city of Iokastos son of Aiolos." [N.B. Post-Homeric poets identified Aiolia with an island off the Sicilian coast and his sons were made eponyms of Greek colonies along the south Italian coast.]

Lycophron, Alexandra 738 ff (trans. Mair) (Greek poet C3rd B.C.) :
"And he [Odysseus] shall shut up the blustering winds in the hide of an ox."

Parthenius, Love Romances 2 (trans. Gaselee) (Greek poet C1st B.C.) :
"From the Hermes of Philetas [a Greek elegiac poet from Kos, C3rd B.C.]. While Odysseus was on his wanderings round about Sikelia (Sicily), in the Tyrrhenian (Etruscan) and Sikelian seas, he arrived at the island of Meligounis, where King Aiolos made much of him because of the great admiration he had for him by reason of his famous wisdom: he inquired of him about the capture of Troy and how the ships of the returning heroes were scattered, and he entertained him well and kept him with him for a long time. Now, as it fell out, this stay was most agreeable to Odysseus, for he had fallen in love with Polymela, one of Aiolos’s daughters, and was engaged in a secret intrigue with her. But after Odysseus had gone off with the winds shut up in a bag, the girl was found jealously guarding some stuffs from among the Trojan spoils which he had given her, and rolling among them with bitter tears. Aiolos reviled Odysseus bitterly although he was away, and had the intention of exacting vengeance upon Polymela; however, her brother Diores was in love with her, and both begged her off her punishment and persuaded his father to give her to him as his wife."

Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 4. 66. 6 (trans. Oldfather) (Greek historian C1st B.C.) :
"Aiolos [son of Hippotes] took possession of the island in the Tyrrhenian Sea which are called after him Aiolian and founded a city to which he gave the name Lipara." - Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 4.66.6

Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 4. 67. 3 :
"The sons of Aiolos, who was the son of Hellen, who was the son of Deukalion, settled in the regions we have mentioned, but Mimas remained behind and ruled as king of Aiolis. Hippotes, who was born of Mimas, begat Aiolos by Melanippê, and Arnê, who was the daughter of Aiolos, bore Boiotos by Poseidon."
[N.B. This genealogy was constructed to try to explain the connection between the two figures named Aiolos in myth.]

Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 5. 7. 5 :
"When Liparos [king of the Aiolian island of Lipara] had already come to old age, Aiolos, the son of Hippotes, came to Lipara with certain companions and married Kyane, the daughter of Liparos; and after he had formed a government in which his followers and the natives shared equally he became king over the island . . .
This is the Aiolos to whom, the myth relates, Odysseus came in the course of his wanderings. He was, they say, pious and just and kindly as well in his treatment of strangers; furthermore, he introduced sea-farers to the use of sails and had learned, by long observation what the fire foretold, to predict with accuracy the local winds, this being the reason why the myth has referred to him as the `keeper of the winds’ ; and it was because of his very great piety that he was called a friend of the gods.
To Aiolos, we are told, sons were born to the number of six, Astyokhos, Xouthos, and Androkles, and Pheraimon, Iokastos, and Agathyrnos, and they every one received great approbation both because of the fame of their father and because of their own high achievements." [N.B. The sons of Aiolos given here are eponyms of Greek colonies along the coasts of southern Italy and Sicily. Diodorus himself was a Sicilian Greek.]

Strabo, Geography 6. 2. 11 (trans. Jones) (Greek geographer C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"As for Strongyle, [of the Liparai Islands] it is so called from its shape, and it too is fiery; it falls short in the violence of its flame, but excels in the brightness of its light; and this is where Aiolos lived, it is said."

Strabo, Geography 7. 1. 5 :
"Off this coast [of southern Italy] lie the islands of the Liparaei, at a distance of two hundred stadia from the Strait. According to some, they are the islands of Aiolos, of whom the Poet makes mention in the Odyssey. They are seven in number and are all within view both from Sicily and from the continent near Medma."

Quintus Smyrnaeus, Fall of Troy 3. 580 ff (trans. Way) (Greek epic C4th A.D.) :
"For honour to [Thetis] the Goddess, Nereus' child, he [Zeus] sent to Aiolos Hermes, bidding him summon the sacred might of his swift Anemoi (Winds), for that the corpse of Aiakos' son [Akhilleus] must now be burned [swiftly on the pyre]. With speed he went, and Aiolos refused not : tempestuous Boreas (North-wind) in haste he summoned, and the wild blast of Zephyros (the West); and to Troy sped they on their whirlwind wings."

Quintus Smyrnaeus, Fall of Troy 14. 467 ff :
"Sped she Iris unto Aiolos, from heaven far-flying over misty seas, to bid him send forth all his buffetting Anemoi (Winds) o'er iron-bound Kaphereus' cliffs to sweep ceaselessly, and with ruin of madding blasts to upheave the sea. And Iris heard, and swift she darted, through cloud-billows plunging down--thou hadst said : `Lo, in the sky dark water and fire!'
And to Aiolia came she, isle of caves, of echoing dungeons of mad-raging winds with rugged ribs of mountain overarched, whereby the mansion stands of Aiolos Hippotas' son. Him found she therewithin with wife and twelve sons; and she told to him Athena's purpose toward the homeward-bound Akhaians. He denied her not, but passed forth of his halls, and in resistless hands upswung his trident, smiting the mountain-side within whose chasm-cell the wild Anemoi (Winds) dwelt tempestuously shrieking. Ever pealed weird roarings of their voices round its vaults. Cleft by his might was the hill-side; forth they poured. He bade them on their wings bear blackest storm to upheave the sea, and shroud Kaphereus' heights."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 125 (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"He [Odysseus] came to Aeolus, son of Hellen, to whom control of the Winds had been given by Jove [Zeus]. He welcomed Ulysses [Odysseus] hospitably, and gave him as a gift a bag full of Winds. But his comrades took it, thinking it to be gold and silver, and when they wished to divide it, they opened the bag secretly, and the Winds rushed out. He was carried again to Aeolus, who cast him out because the divinity of the gods seemed hostile to him."

Ovid, Metamorphoses 1. 262 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"Swiftly within the Aeolus’ cave he [Zeus] locked Aquilo (the North Wind) [Boreas] and the gales the drive away the gathered clouds, and set Auster (the South Wind) [Notos] forth; and out on soaking wings Notus (the South Wind) flew . . . the thunder crashed and storms of blinding rain poured down from heaven."

Ovid, Metamorphoses 4. 663 ff :
"Now in their age-old prison Hippotades [Aiolos] had locked the Venti (Winds)."

Ovid, Metamorphoses 9. 507 ff :
"No scruples held the fabled Aeolidae (sons of Aeolus) from their six sisters beds."

Ovid, Metamorphoses 11. 430 ff :
"Take no vain comfort in false confidence that my [Alkyone wife of Keyx] great father Hippotades [Aiolos] rules the Venti (Winds) of heaven, holding imprisoned all their stormy strength, soothing at will the anger of the seas. When once the Venti (Winds) are loosed and seize the main, naught is forbidden them; the continents and oceans cower forsaken; in the sky they drive the clouds and with their wild collisions strike fiery lightnings crashing down the world. The more I know them (for I know them well, and in my father’s house, when I was small, I often saw them) my heart fears the more."

Ovid, Metamorphoses 11. 560 ff :
"[The ship of Keyx, son of Hesperos, and the husband of Alkyone, daughter of Aiolos, was sunk in a storm :] Ceyx in his hand, that once had held the sceptre, clutched a plank, and prayed to his wife’s father [Aiolos] and his own [Hesperos] for help in vain."
[N.B. Alkyone, "the halcyon bird," was represented as a daughter of both the Thessalian king Aiolos and Aiolos, king of the winds.]

Ovid, Metamorphoses 11. 742 ff :
"The gods changed both [Keyx and Alkyone] to birds [i.e. halycons or kingfishers]; the same strange fate they shared, and still their love endured, the bonds of wedlock bound them still, though they were birds. They mate and rear their young and in the winter for seven days of clam Alcyone broods on her nest, borne cradled on the waves. Calm lies the sea. The Aeolus keeps his squalls imprisoned and forbids the storms to break, and days are tranquil for his grandsons’ sake."

Ovid, Metamorphoses 14. 85 ff :
"The fleet [of Aeneas] . . . cast off and left behind Hippotades’ [Aiolos’] domain, the smoking land of sulphur fumes, and the three Sirenes Acheloiades’ rock."

Ovid, Metamorphoses 14. 223 ff :
"Aeolus ruled the Tyrrhene main, Hippotades [son of Hippotes], and held the Venti (Winds) imprisoned. These, secured within a bull’s-hide bag, Ulixes [Odysseus] had received, a memorable gift. Nine days, he said, they sailed with a fair breeze and they had seen the land they sought, but when the tenth day dawned envy and lust fro booty overcame his shipmates. Sure the gold was there, they loosed the lace that held the Venti (Winds), and back their ship was blown over the waters she’d just crossed, back to the Wind-King’s (tyrannus Aeolius) harbour once again."

Ovid, Fasti 2. 455 ff (trans.Boyle) (Roman poetry C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"Blasts are inconstant; the wide door of Aeolus’ dungeon flaps and is unbarred for six days."

Ovid, Heroides 10. 65 ff (trans. Showerman) (Roman poetry C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"Grant I do glide with fortunate keel over peaceful seas, that Aeolus tempers the winds."

Ovid, Heroides 11. 9 ff :
"Fierce as he [Aiolos] is, far harsher than his own Euri (east-winds) . . . Surely, something comes from a life with savage winds; his temper is like that of his subjects. It is Notus, and Zephyrus, and Sithonian Aquilo [Boreas], over whom he rules, and over thy pinions, wanton Eurus. He rules the winds, alas! but his swelling wrath he does not rule, and the realms of his possession are less wide than his faults."
[N.B. This passage is from an epistle written by Kanake. Kanake, however, is usually described as a daughter of the Thessalian king Aiolos, rather than a daughter of the god of the winds.]

Ovid, Heroides 18. 37 ff :
"[Leandros prays for gentle seas :] But thou, most ungentle of the sweeping winds, why art thou bent on waging war with me? It is I, O Boreas, if thou dost not know, and not the waves, against whom thou ragest! . . . Have mercy on me, I pray; be mild, and stir a more gentle breeze--so may Hippotades [Aiolos] lay upon thee no harsh command."

Virgil, Aeneid 1. 50 ff (trans. Day-Lewis) (Roman epic C1st B.C.) :
"[Juno or Hera, calls on Aiolos to send a storm to destroy the fleet of the Trojan hero Aeneas :] The goddess [Hera] came to the storm-cloud country, the womb-land of brawling siroccos, Aeolia. Here in a huge cavern King Aeolus keeps curbed and stalled, chained up in durance to his own will, the heaving Winds and far-reverberating Tempests. Behind the bars they bellow, mightily fretting: the mountain is one immense murmur. Aeolus, aloft on his throne of power, sceptre in hands, gentles and disciplines their fierce spirits. Otherwise, they’d be bolting off with the earth and the ocean and the deep sky--yes, brushing them all away into space. But to guard against this the Father of heaven [Zeus] put the Winds in a dark cavern and laid a heap of mountains upon them, and gave them an overlord who was bound by a firm contract to rein them in or give them their head, as he was ordered. Him Juno [Hera] now petitioned. Here are the words she used:--`Aeolus, the king of gods and men has granted you the rule of the winds, to lull the waves or lift them. A breed I have no love for now sails the Tyrrhene sea [i.e. Aeneas and his Trojans]. Transporting Troy’s defeated gods to Italy. Lash fury into your Winds! Whelm those ships and sink them! Flail the crews apart! Litter the sea with their fragments! Fourteen nymphae I have--their charms are quite out of the common--of whom the fairest in form, Deiopea, I’ll join to you in lasting marriage and seal her yours for ever, a reward for this great favour I ask, to live out all the years with you, and make you the father of handsome children.’
Aeolus answered thus:--`O queen, it is for you to be fully aware what you ask: my duty is to obey. Through you I hold this kingdom, for what it’s worth, as Jove’s viceroy; you grant the right to sit at the gods’ table; you are the one who makes me grand master of cloud and storm.’
Thus he spoke, and pointing his spear at the hollow mountain, pushed at its flank : and the Winds, as it were in a solid mass, hurl themselves through the gates and sweep the land with tornadoes. They have fallen upon the sea, they are heaving it up from its deepest abysses, the whole sea--East wind, South, Sou-wester thick with squalls--and bowling great billows at the shore. There follows a shouting of men, a shrilling of stays and halyards. All of a sudden the Storm-clouds are snatching the heavens, the daylight from the eyes of the Trojans; night, black night is fallen on the sea. The welkin explodes, the firmament flickers with thick-and-fast lightning, and everything is threatening the instant death of men . . .
Even as he cried out thus, a howling gust from the North hit the front of the sail, and a wave climbed the sky. Oars snapped; then the ship yawed, wallowing broadside on to the seas: and then, piled up there, a precipice of sea hung. One vessel was poised on a wave crest; for another the waters, collapsing, showed sea-bottom in the trough: the tide-race boiled with sand. Three times did the South wind spin them towards an ambush of rocks (those sea-girt rocks which Italians call by the name of The Altars), rocks like a giant spine on the sea: three times did the East wind drive them in to the Syrtes shoal, a piteous spectacle--hammering them on the shallows and hemming them round with sandbanks . . .
Meanwhile Neptunus [Poseidon] has felt how greatly the sea is in turmoil, felt the unbridled storm disturbing the water even down to the sea-bed, and sorely troubled has broken surface; he gazes forth on the seep with a pacific mien. He sees the fleet of Aeneas all over the main, dismembered, the Trojans crushed by waves and the sky in ribbons about them: Juno’s vindictive stratagems do not escape her brother.
He summons the East and the West Winds, and then proceeds to say:--`Does family pride tempt you to such impertinence? Do you really dare, you Winds, without my divine assent to confound earth and sky, and raise this riot of water? You, whom I--! Well, you have made the storm, I must lay it. Next time, I shall not let you so lightly redeem your sins. Now leave, and quickly leave, and tell your overlord this--not to him but me was allotted the stern trident dominion over the seas. His domain is the mountain of rock, your domicile, O East Wind. Let Aeolus be king of that castle and let him keep the Winds locked up in its dungeon.’
He spoke; and before he had finished, the insurgent sea was calmed."

Pliny the Elder, Natural History 3. 92 - 94 (trans. Rackham) (Roman encyclopedia C1st A.D.) :
"At a distance of nearly 25 miles from Italy, are the seven islands called the Aeoliae and also the Liparean; their Greek name is Hephaestiades, and the Roman Volcaniae; they are called Aeoliae from King Aeolus, who reigned there in the Homeric period . . . Lipara takes its name from King Liparus, who succeeded Aeolus . . . Between it and Sicilia is another island formerly called Therasia, and now Hiera (Holy Island) because it is sacred to Volcanos [Hephaistos], on it being a hill that vomits out flames in the night.
The third island is Stromboli, six miles to the east of Lipara; here Aeolus reigned. It differs from the Lipara only in the fact that its flame is more liquid; the local population are reported to be able to foretell from its smoke three days ahead what winds are going to blow, and this is the source of the belief that the winds obeyed the orders of Aeolus."

Pliny the Elder, Natural History 7. 203 :
"[On inventions :] Aeolus on of Hellen [invented] the theory of winds."

Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica 1. 416 ff (trans. Mozley) (Roman epic C1st A.D.) :
"He [the Argonaut Erginos, a son of Poseidon] can tell . . . what wind Aeolus is planning to unprison from his caves."

Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica 1. 574 ff :
"There stand in the Sicilian Sea on the side of retreating Pelorum a crag, the terror of the straits; high as are the piles it lifts into the air, even so deep are those that sink below the surface of the waters; and hard by may one see another land with rocks and caverns no less terrible; in the former dwell [the Kyklopes] Acamas and naked Pyragmon, the latter is the home of Squalls and Winds and shipwrecking Storms; from here they pass to the lands over the wide ocean, from here in bygone days would they spread turmoil in the heavens nad in the disastrous sea--for at that time no Aeolus was their master, when the intruding sea broke Calpe off from Libya, when Oenotria to her sorrow lost the lands of Sicily and the waters burst into the heart of the mountains--until the All-powerful [Zeus] thundered from sky upon the trembling blasts and appointed them a king [Aiolos], whom the fierce band were bidden to revere; iron and a twofold wall of rocks quell Euros (the East Wind) within the mountain. When the king can no longer curb their roaring mouths, then of his own will he unbars the doors and by granting egress lulls their savage complaints. Boreas now with these tidings drives him from his lofty throne : `Ah! What monstrous deed, Aeolus, have I spied from the heights of Pangaeus! Grecian heroes have devised a strange engine with the axe [i.e. a boat], and now triumph joyously over the seas with a huge sail, nor have I power of myself to stir up the sea from its sandy depths, as I had or ever I was fettered and imprisoned. This it is that gives them courage and confidence in the vessel they have built, that they see Boreas ruled by a king. Grant me to overwhelm the Greeks with their mad bark : the thought of my children [i.e. the Boreades who had joined the Argonauts] moves me not, only do thou quench these threats of mortal man, while still the shores of Thesally and as yet no other lands have seen their sails.’
He ceased speaking : but within all the Winds began to roar and clamour for the open sea. Then did Hippotades [Aiolos] drive against the mighty door with a whirling blast. Joyfully from the prison burst the Thracian horses, Zephyrus (the West Wind) and Notus (the South Wind) of the night-dark pinions with all the sons of the Storms, and Eurus (the East Wind) his hair dishevelled with the blasts, and tawny with too much sand; they drew the tempest on, and in thunderous advance together drive the curling waves to shore, and stir not the trident’s realms alone, for at he same time the fiery sky falls with a mighty peal, and night brings all things beneath a pitchy sky."

Statius, Thebaid 1. 346 ff (trans. Mozley) (Roman epic C1st A.D.) :
"And now the rocky prisons of Aeolia are smitten and groan, and the coming storm threatens with hoarse bellowing: the Venti (Winds) loud clamouring meet in conflicting currents."

Statius, Thebaid 3. 432 ff :
"Even so their chieftain Neptunus [Poseidon] drives before him the Venti (Winds) set free from Aeolus’ cell, and speeds them willing over the wide Aegean; in his train Nimbi (Storms) and high-piled Himes (Tempests), a surly company, clamour about his reins, and Nubes (Clouds) and the dark Tempestas (Hurricane) torn from earth’s rent bowels; wavering and shaken to their foundations the Cyclades stem the blast."

Statius, Thebaid 6. 299 ff :
"On a single shore Aeolus appoints a contest for the wild Venti (Winds)." [N.B. The contest of the winds is likened to a horse-race]."

Statius, Thebaid 10. 246 ff :
"Father Aeolus, when the cave is in tumult and the Winds are already yearning for the deep, sternly set another rock against the door, and wholly bar their passage."

Statius, Silvae 3. 2. 1 (trans. Mozley) (Roman poetry C1st A.D.) :
"And may the father [Aiolos] whose Aeolian prison constrains the Winds, whom the various blasts obey, and every air that stirs on the world’s seas, and storms and cloudy tempests, keep Boreas (the North-Wind) and Notos (South-Wind) and Eurus (East-Wind) in closer custody behind his wall of mountain; but may Zephyros (the West-Wind) alone have the freedom of the sky, alone drive vessels onward and skim unceasingly o’er the crests of the billows, until he bring without a storm thy glad sail safe to the Paraetonian haven."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 9. 59 ff (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D.) :
"Leukothea, holding the key of calm waters, mistress of good voyage next to Aiolos." [N.B. Leukothea was a sea-goddess, the protector of sailors.]

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 13. 381 ff :
"Psyllos the harebrained; the bridegroom she [Ankhiroe] held in her arms was the gods’ enemy. Notos, that hot wind, once burnt his [Psyllos of Libya’s] crops with parching breath; whereupon he fitted out a fleet and gathered a naval swarm of helmeted warriors, to stir up strife against the Aetai (Winds) of the south with avenging doom, eager to kill fiery Notos. To the island of Aiolos sailed the shieldbearing fleet; but the Aetai (Winds) armed themselves and flogged the madman’s vessel, volleying with tempestuous tumult in a whirlwind throng of concerted confederate blasts, and sank Psyllos and armament in water grave."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 23. 155 ff :
"[During the Indian War of Dionysos, when the troops of the god attempt to cross the river Hydaspes, the River calls out to Aiolos :] Aiolos--grant me this boon, arm your stormy Winds to be champions against my foes, to fight with the Satyroi, because their host has marched through the waters and made a highroad of Hydaspes for landchariots, because they drive a watery course through my stream! Arm your winds against my ferryman Lyaios!"

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 47. 340 ff :
"[Ariadne abandoned by Theseus on the island of Naxos laments her fate :] `Who stole the man of Athens [Theseus]? . . . If Zephyros (West-Wind) torments me . . . if Notos (South-Wind), or bold Euros (East-Wind) . . . O Theseus my treacherous bridegroom, if the marauding Anemoi (Winds) have carried your course from Naxos to the Athenian land, tell me now I ask, and I will resort to Aiolos at once reproaching the jealous and wicked Anemoi (Winds)."


Sources:

  • Homer, The Odyssey - Greek Epic C8th B.C.
  • Greek Lyric III, Stesichorus - Greek Lyric C7th-6th B.C.
  • Apollodorus, The Library - Greek Mythography C2nd A.D.
  • Apollonius Rhodius, The Argonautica - Greek Epic C3rd B.C.
  • Callimachus, Fragments - Greek Poetry C3rd B.C.
  • Lycophron, Alexandra - Greek Poetry C3rd B.C.
  • Parthenius, Love Romances - Greek Mythography C1st B.C.
  • Diodorus Siculus, The Library of History - Greek History C1st B.C.
  • Strabo, Geography - Greek Geography C1st B.C. - C1st A.D.
  • Quintus Smyrnaeus, Fall of Troy - Greek Epic C4th A.D.
  • Hyginus, Fabulae - Latin Mythography C2nd A.D.
  • Virgil, Aeneid - Latin Epic C1st B.C.
  • Ovid, Metamorphoses - Latin Epic C1st B.C. - C1st A.D.
  • Ovid, Fasti - Latin Poetry C1st B.C. - C1st A.D.
  • Ovid, Heroides - Latin Poetry C1st B.C. - C1st A.D.
  • Pliny the Elder, Natural History - Latin Encyclopedia C1st A.D.
  • Valerius Flaccus, The Argonautica - Latin Epic C1st A.D.
  • Statius, Thebaid - Latin Epic C1st A.D.
  • Statius, Silvae - Latin Poetry C1st A.D.
  • Nonnos, Dionysiaca - Greek Epic C5th A.D.

Other references not currently quoted here : Plutarch Parallel Lives 28