Aeolus (spelled also as Aeolos or Aiolos) was the name of three characters in Greek mythology. One of them was the considered the god of winds (and you can read more about him by clicking here).
The first one (chronologically) is the son of Hellen (the mythological ancestor of the Greeks) and of the nymph Orseis. He was the ruler of Aeolia (this is the ancient name of Thessalia). He was considered the progenitor of the Aeolian branch of the Greeks. Many tribes wanted to be considered his descendants, through his sons, and that's why the number of his sons varies.
He married Enarete and they had:
- seven sons: Cretheus, Sisyphus, Athamas, Salmoneus, Deioneus, Magnes and Perieres (other traditions also include Macareus, Aethlius and Mimas)
- five daughters: Canace, Alcyone, Peisidice, Calyce and Perimele (wait, it's not over yet, other authors say that he also had Tanagra and Arne). When he discovered that his daughter Canace was in love with her own brother, Macareus, he sent her a sword and ordered her to commit suicide.
The second one is the grandson of Mimas (one of the sons of the first one) and the father of Arne, who became the mother of the third Aeolus, by Poseidon.
As regards the third one, I have just told you (see above) about one version about his birth (in another version, he is the son of Hippotes). But let's stick to the version with him being the sea god's son.
Diodorus tells us that Arne told her father that she was pregnant by Poseidon, but he didn't believe her. That's why he gave her to a stranger, who took her to Metapontum, in present-day Italy. There, she gave birth to twins, Aeolus (the third) and Boeotus. The nice man adopted the kids but, when they grew up, they had to flee the city, because they had killed Autolyte, the man's wife, after a dispute with their mother. Aeolus went to an archipelago in the Thyrrenian Sea, which was later called after him: the Aeolian Islands. Some even say he founded the city of Lipara (Lipari today), on the island of Lipari (the largest of the Aeolian islands).
He was a kind king and he taught the natives about the use of the sails and about the signs that let one know what kind of wind would rise. This is the character who was later considered the keeper/god of the winds and on whose island Odysseus landed during his wanderings.
In Hyginus, the story is a little bit different. The mother is called Melanippe, and she was a daughter of Desmontes or Aeolus. She gave birth to twins, Aeolus (I lost trace of the count) and Boeotus. Her father found out, blinded her and imprisoned her and he gave order that the children should be abandoned in the wilderness. There, a cow found them and fed them with its milk. When the shepherds saw that, they took care of the children.
In the meantime, Metapontus, king of Icaria, threatened to send into exile his wife, Theano, if she didn't bear him children. Desperate, she sent her servants to find her a baby to present as her own. The shepherds gave her the twins, and the king was very pleased to have such beautiful babies.
(Okay, okay, let me see if I got it straight: so the king orders his wife: "Have children!" and in a matter of days she says: "Here they are, twins!" and he buys it! Or maybe the search took nine months - more or less -, so as to make a pregnancy believable, but by then the children were quite grown up, and the king buys it nonetheless! Maybe it's better not to try to understand at all).
After a while, queen Theano managed to have her own children. She was very jealous when she saw that the king preferred the twins and one day, when they were grown up, she revealed the truth to them. She also taught them to go hunting with their brothers and to kill them, so as to have the kingdom to themselves. But in the fight that ensued, Poseidon helped his children, who killed Theano's kids.
When their bodies were brought home, Theano commited suicide. Aeolus and Boeotus fled to the shepherds, in the woods. God Poseidon finally told them that he was their father and that their mother was held captive by their grandfather. The two went to Desmontes, killed him and freed their mother. Poseidon restored her sight and her children took her to Metapontus, to whom they also told about Theano's scheme. In the end Metapontus married Melanippe and adopted the twins. Later they founded two cities with their own names, Aeolia and Boeotia.
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