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Several characters are known under this name, though they are not easy to distinguish:

  1. The first is the son of Hellen and the Nymph Orseis (Table 8), and hence the grandson of Deucalion and Pyrrha. Dorus and Xuthus were his brothers. His descendants became known as the Aeolians. Aeolus was king of Magnesia, in Thessaly. He married Aenarete, the daughter of Deimachus, by whom he had seven sons: Cretheus, Sisyphus, Athamas, Salmoneus, Deion, Magnes, and Perieres - to whom certain traditions added Macareus, Aethlius, and Mimas. He also had five daughters: Canace, Alcyone, Pisidice, Calyce, and Perimede (arrording to some authors Tanagra and Arne were also his daughters). This Aeolus was sometimes identified with the Lord of the Winds (see below), but this title is more often given to Aeolus 2. Aeolus played a part in the tragic love affair of his daughter Canace with Macareus.
  2. Aeolus, son of Arne and Poseidon, was the grandson of Aeolus the son of Hellen. His mother is often given the name of Melanippe rather than Arne (and this was the tradition followed in particular by Euripides in his two lost tragedies of Melanippe). Melanippe (or Arne) had twins by Poseidon - Aeolus and Boeotus. At their birth, Melanippe's father blinded his daughter and imprisoned her in a dungeon. The he ordered the twins to be exposed on the mountain. A cow came and fed them with its milk, until some shepherds who had witnessed this miracle took Aeolus and Boeotus in and brought them up as their own sons. Now Metapontus, king of Icaria (according to Hyginus, this should read: 'king of Italy') was unable to have a child by his wife Theano, whose sterility caused him to threaten her with divorce. Theano asked the shepherds to provide her with infants which she could pass off as her own and they gave her Aeolus and Boeotus, whom she presented to Metapontus, making him believe they were his sons. But then Theano herself bore twin sons and became anxious to get rid of the two strangers she had so imprudently introduced into her house - especially since their beauty had made them her husband's favourites. One day when Metapontus had gone to sacrifice to Diana Metapontina, Theano told her sons the secret of Aeolus' and Boeotus' birth. As a result of this, and at her encouragement of her own sons, the four youths fought on a mountain while out hunting and, thanks to Poseidon's help, Aeolus and Boeotus were the victors. They killed Theano's sons, then fled to seek asylum with the shephers who had taken them in before. There Poseidon disclosed to them that their mother was still a prisoner. The young men hastened to her rescue. Poseidon restored her sight and her sons took her to Metapontum, where they revealed Theano's crimes to King Metapontus. The king married Melanippe, and the two young men left to found cities - one of them Boeotia in Thrace and the other Aeolia in Propontis.

    There are other versions of this legend. One of them has Arne-Melanippe, pregnant by Poseidon, not imprisoned by her father, but handed over to an inhabitant of Metapontum, who was passing through Thessaly and who adopted the two children, Aeolus and Boeotus, when he reached home, on the advice of an oracle. When they were grown men Arne's two sons seized the throne of Metapontum, thanks to a revolution. Then they slew their adoptive father's wife (Autolyta, or perhaps Siris), who had begun to quarrel with their mother. After this murder they were forced to flee. Aeolus took himself off to the islands of the Aeolian sea, and there founded the city of Lipara. Boeotus went to Aeolis, later known as Thessaly.

    The legend also told how after Aeolus had left Metapontum he was welcomed in the Aeolian Islands by King Liparus, the son of Auson, who gave them both his daughter Cyane in marriage, and his throne while he himself went to Sorrento, on the Gulf of Naples. Aeolus had six sons by Cyane: Astyochus, Xouthus, Androcles, Pheraemon, Iocastus, and Agathyrnus.

Aeolus, son of Poseidon, was often identified with Aeolus the Lord of the Winds who appears in the Odyssey (see 1, above). When Odysseus landed on the island of Aeolia during his travels Aeolus gave him a goatskin bottle which contained all the winds except one - the one which would take him straight back to Ithaca. But while Odysseus was asleep, his companions opened the bottle, thinking it was full of wine; the winds escaped, and caused a storm which drove the ship back to the shores of Aeolia. Aeolus assumed that the hero was the victim of divine wrath; he refused to have anything more to do with him, and sent him packing.


Table of Sources:

  1. - Apollod. Bibl. 1, 7, 3
    - Strabo 8, 7, 1, p. 383
    - Conon, Narr. 27
    - Paus. 10, 8, 4; 10, 38, 4; 9, 20, 1; 9, 40, 5
    - schol. on Pind. Pyth. 4, 253
    - Diod. Sic. 4, 67, 3
    - Ovid, Her. II; Trist. 2, 384
    - Hyg. Fab. 125
  2. - Euripides, Aeolus (lost tragedy, Nauck TGF, edn 2, pp. 365ff.)
    - Hyg. Fab. 157; 186
    - schol. on Dion. Perieg. 461
    - Diod Sic. 4, 67, 3ff
    - Strabo 6, 1, 3, p. 256
- Hom. Od. 10, 1ff
- Hyg. Fab. 125
- Ovid, Met. 14. 223ff.
- Virgil, Aen. 1, 52ff.
- Apoll. Rhod. Arg. 4, 761ff. with schol. on 764.

Ae"o*lus (#), n. [L., fr. Gr. .] Gr. & Rom. Myth.

The god of the winds.


© Webster 1913.

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