Aeolus or Eolus[1] (Greek: Template:Polytonic Aiolos Template:IPA-el, Modern Greek: Template:IPA-el) was the ruler of the winds in Greek mythology. In fact this name was shared by three mythic characters. These three personages are often difficult to tell apart, and even the ancient mythographers appear to have been perplexed about which Aeolus was which. Diodorus Siculus made an attempt to define each of these three (although it is clear he also became muddled), and his opinion is followed here.[2] Briefly, the first Aeolus was a son of Hellen and eponymous founder of the Aeolian race; the second was a son of Poseidon, who led a colony to islands in the Tyrrhenian Sea; and the third Aeolus was a son of Hippotes who is mentioned in Odyssey book 10 as Keeper of the Winds who gives Odysseus a tightly closed bag full of the captured winds so he could sail easily home to Ithaca on the gentle West Wind. All three men named Aeolus appear to be connected genealogically, although the precise relationship, especially regarding the second and third Aeolus, is often ambiguous.

Son of HellenEdit

This Aeolus was son of Hellen and the nymph Orseis, and a brother of Dorus, Xuthus and Amphictyon. He was described as the ruler of Aeolia (later called Thessaly) and held to be the founder of the Aeolic branch of the Greek nation. Aeolus married Enarete, daughter of Deimachus (otherwise unknown). Aeolus and Enarete had many children, although the precise number and identities of these children vary from author to author in the ancient sources.[3][4] 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. Some scholars contend that the most ancient and genuine story told of only four sons of Aeolus: Sisyphus, Athamas, Cretheus, and Salmoneus, as the representatives of the four main branches of the Aeolic race.[2] Other sons included Deioneus, Perieres, Cercaphas and perhaps Magnes (usually regarded as a brother of Macedon) and Aethlius. Another son is named Mimas, who provides a link to the third Aeolus in a genealogy that seems very contrived. Calyce, Peisidice, Perimele and Alcyone were counted among the daughters of Aeolus and Enarete.[5] This Aeolus also had an illegitimate daughter named Arne, begotten on Melanippe, daughter of the Centaur Cheiron. This Arne became the mother of the second Aeolus, by the god Poseidon.

Son of PoseidonEdit

File:Yakovlev Eoles.jpg

This Aeolus was a son of Poseidon by Arne, daughter of Aeolus. He had a twin brother named Boeotus. Arne confessed to her father that she was with child by the god Poseidon; her father, however, did not believe her, and handed her over to a man named Metapontus, King of Icaria. When Bœotus and Æo­lus were born, they were raised by Meta­pontus; but their stepmother (Autolyte, wife of Metapontus) quarrelled with their mother Arne, prompting Bœotus and Aeolus to kill Autolyte and flee from Icaria. Bœotus (accompanied by Arne) went to southern Thessaly, and founded Boeotia; but Aeolus went to a group of islands in the Tyrrhenian Sea, which received from him the name of the Aeolian Islands; accord­ing to some accounts this Aeolus founded the town of Lipara. Although his home has been traditionally identified as one of the Aeolian Islands (there is little consensus as to which), near Sicily, an alternative location has been suggested at Gramvousa off the northwest coast of Crete. Aeolus had six sons and six daughters, whom in Homer he wed to one another and the family lived happily together. Later writers were shocked by the incest: in Hyginus,[6] the day Aeolus learned that one of his sons, Macareus, had committed incest with his sister Canace he expelled Macareus and threw the child born of this incestuous union to the dogs,[7] and sent his daughter a sword by which she was to kill herself.[8] Other late accounts claim that the child, a daughter named Amphissa, was rescued and later beloved by Apollo.

Son of HippotesEdit

This Aeolus is most frequently conflated with Aeolus, the son of Poseidon (God of the sea). It is difficult to delineate this Aeolus from the second Aeolus, as their identities seem to have been merged by many ancient writers. The father of this third Aeolus is given as Mimas, a son of the first Aeolus (son of Hellen). According to some accounts, Mimas married the same Melanippe who was the mother of Arne. This Aeolus lived on the floating island of Aeolia and was visited by Odysseus and his crew in the Odyssey. He gave hospitality for a month and provided for a west wind to carry them home. He also provided a gift of a bag containing each of the four winds, which Odysseus's crew members opened just before their home was reached. Unfortunately, they were blown back to Aeolia, where Aeolus refused to provide any further help.[9] This Aeolus was perceived by post-Homeric authors as a god, rather than as a mortal and simple Keeper of the Winds (as in the Odyssey).

In the Aeneid by Virgil, Juno offers Aeolus the nymph Deiopea as a wife if he will release his winds upon the fleet of Aeneas.[10]


  1. Chaucer's Eolus (Weever, Jacqueline (1996). Chaucer Name Dictionary, s.v. "Eolus". (Garland Publishing) Retrieved on 2009-10-06
  2. 2.0 2.1 Template:Citation
  3. Bibliotheca i. 7. §3
  4. Scholium on Pindar's Pythian Ode iv. 190.
  5. Apollodorus i. 7. ~ 3)
  6. Hyginus. Fabulae, 238, 242.
  7. Ovid. Heroides, 11.
  8. Plutarch. Parallel Lives, p. 312.
  9. Homer, Odyssey x, 2
  10. Virgil, Aeneid i. 71-75

External linksEdit


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