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Ventus

ἄνεμος). Winds were regarded by Greeks and Romans alike as divine beings. In Homer, who mentions only the four chief winds, Boreas (North), Zephyrus (West), Eurus (East), and Notus (South), they are, according to one account ( Od. x. 1-75), committed by Zeus to the charge of Aeolus (q.v.). But elsewhere they appear as independent personalities, who, dwelling in Thrace, display their activity at the command of Zeus and other gods, and are invoked by men with prayers and sacrifices ( Il. xxiii. 195). Hesiod (Theog. 378) calls these winds children of Astraeus and Eos, and distinguishes them as beneficent beings from the destructive winds, the children of Typhoeus (Theog. 869). Some particular myths speak only of Boreas and Zephyrus, from whom, on account of their swiftness, famous horses were supposed to be descended. Thus ( Il. xvi. 150) the horses of Achilles are called the children of Zephyrus and Podargé, one of the Harpies (see Harpyiae). The latter, in accordance with their original nature, are also deities of the wind, or rather of the storm. In historical times the cult of the winds in general, or that of Boreas or Zephyrus in particular, flourished at special places in Greece. In Italy also the winds were held in much veneration, particularly the fructifying wind Favonius, which corresponded to Zephyrus. In Rome the tempests (tempestates) had a sanctuary of their own with regular sacrifices at the Porta Capena, which was founded in B.C. 259, in consequence of a vow made for the preservation of a Roman fleet in a storm at sea. Roman generals when embarking usually offered prayers to the winds and storms, as well as to the other gods, and cast offerings and bloody sacrifices into the waves to propitiate them. To the beneficent winds white animals were offered, and those of a dark colour to the malignant equinoctial and winter storms. The victims were generally rams and lambs.

In works of art the winds are usually represented with winged heads and shoulders, open mouth, and inflated cheeks. The most noteworthy monument, from an artistic point of view, is the Tower of the Winds, still standing in excellent preservation at Athens, on which eight winds are represented (Boreas, North; Kaikias, Northeast; Apeliotes, East; Eurus, Southeast; Notus, South; Lips, Southwest; Zephyrus, West; and Argestes or Sciron, Northwest).

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