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From Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
God of winter, ice, snow, the north wind, storms, clouds, happiness, joy, entertaiment, loneliness and calmness
Statue of Boreas abducting Oreithyia in the Louvre, France
SymbolConch shell, billowing cloak
Personal information
ChildrenCalaes, Zetes,
ParentsAstraeus and Eos
SiblingsEurus, Notus, Zephyrus
Roman equivalentAquillo

Boreas (Ancient Greek: Βορέας, Boreus - “North Wind”) is the Greek god of winter, the north wind, and storms in ancient Greek religion and mythology. He is known for bringing the cold season of winter into the world. His most famous story is about him abducting Oreithyia and making her his wife. He is also known for helping the Athenians against the Persians by sinking 400 Persian ships with his strong icy breath.

Mythology[change | change source]

Boreas was said to have kidnapped Orithyia, an Athenian princess, from the Ilisos. Boreas had taken a fancy to Orithyia and had initially pleaded for her favours, hoping to persuade her. When this failed, he reverted to his usual temper and abducted her as she danced on the banks of the Ilisos. Boreas wrapped Orithyia up in a cloud, raped her, and with her, Boreas fathered two sons—the Boreads, Zethes and Calais, who were part of the crew of the Argo as Argonauts[5][6]—and two daughters—Chione, goddess of snow, and Cleopatra.

From then on, the Athenians saw Boreas as a relative by marriage. When Athens was threatened by Xerxes, the people prayed to Boreas, who was said to have then caused winds to sink 400 Persian ships. A cult was established in Athens in 480 B. C. E. in gratitude to the Boreas for destroying the approaching Persian fleet.[7] A similar event had occurred twelve years earlier, and Herodotus writes:[8]

Now I cannot say if this was really why the Persians were caught at anchor by the stormwind, but the Athenians are quite positive that, just as Boreas helped them before, so Boreas was responsible for what happened on this occasion also. And when they went home they built the god a shrine by the River Ilissus. Two other cases of Boreas being honored by Greek states for similar assistance have been described, in Megalopolis (against Laconia) and in Thurii (against Syracuse). The latter case had Boreas being granted citizenship and a land plot.[9]

The abduction of Orithyia was popular in Athens before and after the Persian War, and was frequently depicted on vase paintings. In these paintings, Boreas was portrayed as a bearded man in a tunic, with shaggy hair that is sometimes frosted and spiked. The abduction was also dramatized in Aeschylus's lost play Oreithyia.