LLR Books

WIND MYTHS.



[Sidenote: Mercury.]

In the myths of the wind, Mercury (or Hermes) was one of the principal
personifications. According to the ancients, he was born of the sky
(Jupiter) and the plains (Maia), and after a very few hours' existence
assumed gigantic proportions, stole away the cattle of the sun (the
clouds), and, after fanning up a great fire in which he consumed some
of the herd, glided back into his cradle at dawn. With a low, mocking
chuckle at the recollection of the pranks he had played, he sank
finally into rest. His name, derived from the Sanskrit _Sarameias_,
means "the breeze of a summer morning;" and it is in his capacity of
god of the wind that he is supposed to waft away the souls of the
dead; for "the ancients held that in the wind were the souls of the
dead." Mercury is the "lying, tricksome wind god who invented music,"
for his music is but "the melody of the winds, which can awaken
feelings of joy and sorrow, of regret and yearning, of fear and hope,
of vehement gladness and utter despair."

[Sidenote: Mars.]

Another personification of the wind was Mars (or Ares), born of the
sky (Jupiter) and of the heavenly light (Juno) in the bleak land of
Thrace, rejoicing in din and in the noise of warfare. His nature is
further revealed by his inconstancy and capriciousness; and whenever
he is overcome, he is noted for his great roar. His name comes from
the same root as Maruts, the Indian god, and means the "grinder" or
"crusher." It was first applied "to the storms which throw heaven and
earth into confusion, and hence the idea of Ares is confined to mere
disorder and tumult."

[Sidenote: Otus and Ephialtes.]

Otus and Ephialtes, the gigantic sons of Neptune, were also at first
merely personifications of the wind and hurricanes. The name of the
latter indicates "one who leaps." Although very short-lived, these
giants were supposed to increase rapidly in size, and assume colossal
proportions, which inspired the hearts of men and gods with terror,
until they saw them finally slain by the unfailing arrows of the sun.

[Sidenote: Pan, Æolus, and the Harpies.]

Pan, Æolus, his numerous progeny, and the Harpies, were also wind
divinities who never entirely lost their original character with the
Greeks, and were therefore worshiped merely as personifications of the

elements.