- Origin: Greece
- Festival Days: Jan 16 and 17 – Greek festival in which offerings were made to the Wind Gods of the Eight Directions
In ancient Greek religion and myth, the Anemoi (Greek: Ἄνεμοι, “Winds”) were wind gods who were each ascribed a cardinal direction from which their respective winds came, and were each associated with various seasons and weather conditions.
They were sometimes represented as mere gusts of wind, at other times were personified as winged men, and at still other times were depicted as horses kept in the stables of the storm god Aeolus, who provided Odysseus with the Anemoi in the Odyssey. The Spartans were reported to sacrifice a horse to the winds on Mount Taygetus. Astraeus, the astrological deity, and Eos/Aurora, the goddess of the dawn, were the parents of the Anemoi, according to the Greek poet Hesiod. The daughters of the Anemoi are the Aurae (wind nymphs).
According to Hesiod, the beneficial winds, Notus, Boreas, Argestes, and Zephyrus, were the sons of Astraeus and Eos, and the destructive ones, as Typhon, are said to be the sons of Typhoeus. Later, especially philosophical writers, endeavoured to define the winds more accurately, according to their places in the compass.
The Anemoi are divided into two groups:
- Anemoi Major
- Boreas: North Wind
- Eurus: East Wind
- Notus: South Wind
- Zephyr: West Wind
- Anemoi Minor
- Apeliotes: Southeast Wind
- Kaikias: Northeast Wind
- Livos (Lips): Southwest Wind
- Skiron (Skeiron): Northwest Wind
Of the four chief Anemoi, Boreas (Aquilo in Latin) was the north wind and bringer of cold winter air, Zephyrus (Favonius in Latin) was the west wind and bringer of light spring and early summer breezes, and Notos (Auster in Latin) was the south wind and bringer of the storms of late summer and autumn; Eurus, the southeast (or according to some, the east) wind, was not associated with any of the three Greek seasons, and is the only one of these four Anemoi not mentioned in Hesiod’s Theogony or in the Orphic Hymns.
Other Minor Wind Deities:
- Argestes “clearing”, a wind blowing from about the same direction as Skiron (Caurus), and probably another name for it
- Aparctias, sometimes called the north wind instead of Boreas
- Thrascias, the north-north-west wind (sometimes called in Latin Circius)
- Euronotus, the wind blowing from the direction, as its name suggests, between Euros and Notos, that is, a south-southeast wind (Euroauster to the Romans)
- Iapyx, the northwest wind about the same as Caurus. It was this wind, according to Virgil, that carried the fleeing Cleopatra home to Egypt after she was defeated at the battle of Actium.
- Libonotus, the south-southwest wind, known as Austro-Africus to the Romans
- Meses, another name for the north-west wind Skiron
- Olympias, apparently identified with Skiron/Argestes
- Phoenicias, another name for the southeast wind (“the one blowing from Phoenicia”, due to this land lying to the south-east of Greece)
The most remarkable monument representing the winds is the octagonal tower of Andronicus Cyrrhestes at Athens. Each of the eight sides of the monument represents one of the eight principal winds in a flying attitude.
A moveable Triton in the centre of the cupola pointed with his staff to the wind blowing at the time.
All these eight figures have wings at their shoulders, all are clothed, and the peculiarities of the winds are indicated by their bodies and various attributes.
This is how it looks today:
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