THE ANEMOI THUELLAI were the Daimones (Spirits) of the violent storm winds, sons of the monstrous storm-giant Typhoeus. They were kept locked away inside the floating island of Aiolos to be released only at the command of the gods to wreak their havoc.
Their female counterparts were the Aellai, Thuellai or Harpyiai.
They were frequently identified with the gentler Anemoi, gods of the four directional winds - Boreas (North), Notos (South) and Zephyros (West) and Euros (East).
BIRTH OF THE STORM-WINDS
Hesiod, Theogony 869 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or 7th B.C.) :
"Zeus in tumult of anger cast [the typhoon giant] Typhoeus into broad Tartaros. And from Typhoeus come boisterous Winds (Anemoi) which blow damply, except Notos (South Wind) and Boreas (North Wind) and clear Zephyros (West Wind). These are a god-sent kind, and a great blessing to men; but the others blow fitfully upon the seas. Some rush upon the misty sea and work great havoc among men with their evil, raging blasts; for varying with the season they blow, scattering ships and destroying sailors. And men who meet these upon the sea have no help against the mischief. Others again over the boundless, flowering earth spoil the fair fields of men who dwell below, filling them with dust and cruel uproar."
AIOLOS MASTER OF THE STORM-WINDS
Homer, Odyssey 10. 1 ff (trans. Shewring) (Greek epic C8th B.C.) :
"We [Odysseus and his men] came to the Nesos Aiolios (Aiolian island); 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 . . . 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 Anemos (Wind) that blows whatever its course might be; because Kronion [Zeus] had made him warden of all the Anemoi (Winds), to bid each of them rise or fall at his own pleasure . . .
The men [Odysseus' crew] talked among themselves [on the return voyage over the contents of the bag], and the counsels of folly were what prevailed. They undid the bag, the Anemoi (Winds) 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 Nesos Aioloios (island of Aiolos), amid the groaning of all my company."
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."
Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 4. 819 ff (trans. Rieu) (Greek epic C3rd B.C.) :
"Aiolos will hold his gusty winds in check, letting none but soft Zephyros (the West Wind) blow till Argo reaches a Phaiakian port."
Quintus Smyrnaeus, Fall of Troy 14. 467 ff (trans. Way) (Greek epic C4th A.D.) :
"To Aiolia came she [Iris], 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 children; 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.
Swiftly upsprang they, ere their king's command was fully spoken. Mightily moaned the sea as they rushed o'er it; waves like mountain-cliffs from all sides were uprolled."
Ovid, Metamorphoses 4. 663 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"Now in their age-old prison Hippotades [Aiolos] had locked the Venti (Winds)."
Ovid, Metamorphoses 11. 430 ff :
"Hippotades [Aiolos] rules the Venti (Winds) [Anemoi] 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."
Virgil, Aeneid 1. 50 ff (trans. Day-Lewis) (Roman epic C1st B.C.) :
"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 [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 - Euros (East wind), Notos (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 Boreas (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 Notos (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 Euros (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 Neptune [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 [Hera'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."
Suidas s.v. Ges agalma (trans. Suda On Line) (Byzantine Greek lexicon C10th A.D.) :
"Ges agalma (A statue of the earth): They model Hestia as a woman, like the earth, holding up a kettledrum, since the earth encloses the winds below herself."
|For MORE information on Aiolos guardian of the winds see AIOLOS
- Homer, The Odyssey - Greek Epic C9th-8th BC
- Hesiod, Theogony - Greek Epic C8th-7th BC
- Apollodorus, The Library - Greek Mythography C2nd BC
- Apollonius Rhodius, The Argonautica - Greek Epic C3rd BC
- Quintus Smyrnaeus, Fall of Troy - Greek Epic C4th AD
- Virgil, Aeneid - Latin Epic C1st BC
- Ovid, Metamorphoses - Latin Epic C1st BC - C1st AD
- Suidas - Byzantine Lexicon C10th AD