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Αἰολίη νῆσος. In later times this legendary scene was transferred to the Liparaean or Aeolian islands, to the north of Sicily. The actual Aeolian isle was identified by some with Lipara (Lipari); by others with Strongyle (Stromboli). Cp. Strabo, 6. 2. 11 “ δὲ Στρογγύλη καλεῖται μὲν ἀπὸ τοῦ σχήματος, ἐστὶ δὲ καὶ αὐτὴ διάπυρος . . ἐνταῦθα δὲ τὸν Αἴολον οἰκῆσαί φασι”, and Pliny, H. N. 3. 9 ‘Strongyle . . in qua regnavit Aeolus.’ Völcker, in his Homeric geography, takes the island of Aeolus to be one of the ‘Aegates insulae,’ on the N.W. coast of Sicily. But there is little advantage in seeking an exact geographical position for a place that belongs to the region of fable. We may however notice the following points in the Homeric description of the island: (1) that it is the first land that Odysseus makes after parting from the Cyclops; and we may suppose that it lay at no great distance thence, for it is customary in Homer, where a long voyage is made, to state the number of days that it occupied, cp. Od.9. 82; inf. 28, 80; (2) that there was open sea between the Aeolian isle and Ithaca (inf.); and (3) that the island lay to the W. of Ithaca, because Aeolus intends to send Odysseus direct to his home, by confining all the other winds except Zephyrus. If we feel bound to localise the island at all, we may say that a place to the S.W. of Sicily best satisfies all the conditions. The names Aeolus (“ἄημι”) and Hippotades (“ἵππος”) both describe the rapid movement of the wind; the latter of the two names recalls “Βορεὰς ἅμιππος” ( Soph. Ant.985). There were three mythological personages called Aeolus: (1) a son of Poseidon; (2) a son of Hellen, alluded to in the words “Κρηθεὺς Αἰολίδης” ( Hom. Od.11. 237); and (3) the present Aeolus, son of Hippotas by Melanippe. Not till the time of the Alexandrines is Aeolus spoken of as a god; he appears here only as “φίλος ἀθανάτοισι θεοῖσι”, and as keeper of the winds by order of Zeus (v. 21).

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hide References (3 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (3):
    • Homer, Odyssey, 11.237
    • Homer, Odyssey, 9.82
    • Sophocles, Antigone, 985
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