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Also called the wind star.

The wind rose was the compass of ancient seafarers. Usually associated with the Phoenicians, the rose was represented as an eight pointed star, each point of which was named for one of the prevailing winds which blew from the various countries around the Mediterranean.

Wind roses were commonly used by Latinate (L), Greek (G), and Italian (I) mapmakers, all of whom labelled their wind roses corresponding to the influence of their native winds and names of winds. The Tower of the Winds, built about 100 BC in Athens and remaining intact to this day, provides a record of the names of these eight winds. Homer is credited with naming the four principle winds, provides a set of personifications, their geneaology, and accompanying stories about the them. Thirty-two winds are ascribed various characteristics in classical literature, but by all accounts only eight winds were ever recognized for the purposes of navigation, corresponding to the four cardinal points and the four quarter points :

  • North: Boreas (G), Aquilo (L), Tramontana (I)

  • Northwest: Corus, or Skirion, or Aparctias (G), Circius (L), Maestro (I)

  • Northeast: Caecias (G), Wuturus (L), Greco (I)

  • West: Zephyrus (G) Favonius (L), Ponente (I)

  • East: Eurus (G), Argestes (L), Levante (I)

  • South: Notus (G), Austerus (L), Ostro (I)

  • Southwest: Libs (G), Africus (L), Africus (I)

  • Southeast: Apeliotes (G), Phoenix or Euronotus (L), Syroco (I)

It is assumed that mariners of those early ships were able to recognize those winds by their characteristic temperature, moisture content, or their associations with celestial bodies. Otherwise, it would be difficult (if not impossible) to use a wind rose for purposes of navigation with any degree of certitude.

Contemporary wind roses (much more complex, naturally) are still developed using computer-assisted analysis and design software to assist in the proper placement of wind turbines and track airborne pollution.

The Oxford Companion to Ships and the Sea

for Everything Quests - The High Seas

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