As long as my bad weather lasts, or longer if this topic is interesting enough, I’ll be discussing the ancient gods and goddesses of many cultures who were said to influence the weather. I’ve started my series with the Theoi Meteoroi — the weather gods of Ancient Greece.
I’m continuing with the Tempest-Winds — the Anemoi Thyellai. Today is about the Keeper of the Winds ~ Aeolus
Like so many gods and goddesses, the name Aeolus is assigned to a few different characters. When Hesiod went around gathering all the different accountings of the myths for his Theogony, I imagine he was often confused.
Some tales portray Aeolus as a god who fathered the winds, others portray him the son of Hippotes a mortal king and an immortal nymph, while others have him as a mortal man given a divine task. I’ve come across tales where he is a divine king who packs mixed bags of winds (also known as clouds) and hangs them in the sky for the other gods to release for good or ill as mood strikes them. In some versions of the myths he keeps the winds in a cavern, while in other versions he has them locked securely away behind strong bronze walls.
Of all the tellings of Aeolus, Homer’s Odyssey pretty much nails him — Aeolus, born to the immortal mother mentioned above, was an immortal stableman working for Zeus and the winds were treated as horses, all kept in a corral on the small island of Aeolia.
The association of wind and horse isn’t too much the imaginative stretch. Horses are fast, after all. Imagine wind running over the tops of golden wheat or barley. I see that action here on my hill. The grass gets high and heavy with seed and the wind paths can be seen blowing them as if invisible horses are galloping over the tops. These amber waves of grain (or grass in seed) spring back after the windy hooves have moved on. Aeolus is also refereed to as Hippotades, which means the reiner of horses. From the Greek hippos meaning horse and tadên meaning reined in tightly. (unrelated to Aeolus but a fun fact to share –Hippopotamus means water horse. My kids got a kick out of that when they were little.).
So how ever it was he became such, Aeolus was the Keeper of the Winds. He plays a small part in the myths, his job to simply let loose the winds according to the whims of the gods and goddesses.
In Homer’s Odyssey, Odysseus been gone 20-some years and is anxious to return to his wife and now grown son. Aeolus gives him a sack of winds to use to fill his sails for that long journey home. Some tellings have Odysseus falling asleep just a few miles from home, in fact, home is within sight. Only Odysseus knows what the sack contains, but the greed of his companions gets the better of them and they open it expecting to find riches. Because Aeolus packed a mixed bag of weak and strong winds, what the sailors unleash is a windstorm that nearly kills them and ends up throwing them all the way back to Aeolia. Aeolus determines the gods must be against Odysseus, which they were, and refuses to help him further.
I like to imagine Aeolus as that one version suggested. He spends his days rounding up winds, stuffing them into cloud sacks, and hanging them in the sky.
Tomorrow ~ the rest of the Anemoi
For 100 days, I’ll post something from my chosen topic: Clichés.
There are 82 entries to come.
Here’s a cliché for today:
If wishes were horses, beggars would ride
Today is Sam Cheever’s blog day.
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