Roman Mythology

Anno Urbis - The Roman Empire Online

Bulfinch's Age of Fable

Home | Prev | Next | Contents


When so many less active agencies were personified, it is not to be supposed that the winds failed to be so. They were Boreas or Aquilo, the north wind; Zephyrus or Favonius, the west; Notus or Auster, the south; and Eurus, the east. The first two have been chiefly celebrated by the poets, the former as the type of rudeness, the latter of gentleness. Boreas loved the nymph Orithyia, and tried to play the lover's part, but met with poor success. It was hard for him to breathe gently, and sighing was out of the question. Weary at last of fruitless endeavors, he acted out his true character, seized the maiden and carried her off. Their children were Zetes and Calais, winged warriors, who accompanied the Argonautic expedition, and did good service in an encounter with those monstrous birds the Harpies.

Zephyrus was the lover of Flora. Milton alludes to them in "Paradise Lost," where he describes Adam waking and contemplating Eve still asleep.

"... He on his side
Leaning half raised, with looks of cordial love, Hung over her enamored, and beheld Beauty which, whether waking or asleep, Shot forth peculiar graces; then with voice, Mild as when Zephyrus on Flora breathes, Her hand soft touching, whispered thus: 'Awake! My fairest, my espoused, my latest found, Heaven's last, best gift, my ever-new delight.'"

Dr. Young, the poet of the "Night Thoughts," addressing the idle and luxurious, says:

"Ye delicate! who nothing can support (Yourselves most insupportable) for whom The winter rose must blow, ... ... and silky soft
Favonius breathe still softer or be chid!"

Prev | Next | Contents

Roman Empire