Bulfinch's Mythology The Age of Fable
Page: 114THE WINDS
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
Favonious breathe still softer or be chid!"
Fortuna is the Latin name for Tyche, the goddess of Fortune. The worship of Fortuna held a position of much higher importance at Rome than did the worship of Tyche among the Greeks. She was regarded at Rome as the goddess of good fortune only, and was usually represented holding the cornucopia.
Victoria, the Latin form for the goddess Nike, was highly honored among the conquest-loving Romans, and many temples were dedicated to her at Rome. There was a celebrated temple at Athens to the Greek goddess Nike Apteros, or Wingless Victory, of which remains still exist.
The river-god Achelous told the story of Erisichthon to Theseus and his companions, whom he was entertaining at his hospitable board, while they were delayed on their journey by the overflow of his waters. Having finished his story, he added, "But why should I tell of other persons' transformations, when I myself am an instance of the possession of this power. Sometimes I become a serpent, and sometimes a bull, with horns on my head. Or I should say, I once could do so; but now I have but one horn, having lost one." And here he groaned and was silent.
Theseus asked him the cause of his grief, and how he lost his horn. To which question the river-god replied as follows: "Who likes to tell of his defeats? Yet I will not hesitate to relate mine, comforting myself with the thought of the greatness of my conqueror, for it was Hercules. Perhaps you have heard of the fame of Dejanira, the fairest of maidens, whom a host of suitors strove to win. Hercules and myself were of the number, and the rest yielded to us two. He urged in his behalf his descent from Jove, and his labors by which he had exceeded the exactions of Juno, his step-mother. I, on the other hand, said to the father of the maiden, 'Behold me, the king of the waters that flow through your land. I am no stranger from a foreign shore, but belong to the country, a part of your realm. Let it not stand in my way that royal Juno owes me no enmity, nor punishes me with heavy tasks. As for this man, who boasts himself the son of Jove, it is either a false pretence, or disgraceful to him if true, for it cannot be true except by his mother's shame.' As I said this Hercules scowled upon me, and with difficulty restrained his rage. 'My hand will answer better than my tongue,' said he. 'I yield you the victory in words, but trust my cause to the strife of deeds. With that he advanced towards me, and I was ashamed, after what I had said, to yield. I threw off my green vesture, and presented myself for the struggle. He tried to throw me, now attacking my head, now my body. My bulk was my protection, and he assailed me in vain. For a time we stopped, then returned to the conflict. We each kept our position, determined not to yield, foot to foot, I bending over him, clinching his hands in mine, with my forehead almost touching his. Thrice Hercules tried to throw me off, and the fourth time he succeeded, brought me to the ground and himself upon my back. I tell you the truth, it was as if a mountain had fallen on me. I struggled to get my arms at liberty, panting and reeking with perspiration. He gave me no chance to recover, but seized my throat. My knees were on the earth and my mouth in the dust.