Painting (1478) by Sandro Botticelli entitled "Primavera," which means "Spring." National Museum, Naples, Italy. Zephyr is at the far right of the painting. He is depicted pursuing the nymph Chloris. Zephyr's breath causes her to sprout flowers from her mouth. At the center is Venus. On the left of Venus are the Three Graces and on the far left of the painting is Mercury.
Click on image for full size
Image courtesy of Planet Art.

Zephyr

Zephyr was the Greek god of the west wind, which was considered the gentlest wind. The colder north wind was called Boreas. The warm west wind indicated the coming spring season awaking the Earth after winter. Even today the name of the god is used to indicate a warm and light breeze.

Zephyr was the son of Astraeus and the goddess of the dawn, Eos. Some say that his wife was the goddess of the rainbow, Iris. However, Zephyr was the father of two immortal horses, Xanthus and Balius, bore by the Harpy, Podarge. The Harpies were terrifying and greedy monsters with the head and trunk of a woman and the tail, wings, legs and talons of a huge bird.

Zephyr was suddenly attracted to Podarge while she was grazing beside the Ocean, after having transformed herself into a splendid filly. The gods gave the two horses, as a wedding present, to Peleus, the father of the famous hero Achille. Xanthus and Balius became the loyal companions of Achille helping him in numerous battles.

Zephyr is also known for having caused the death of a handsome Spartan prince, Hyacinth. Zephyr had fallen in love with Hyacinth. Unfortunately, the young man already had a relationship with the Sun god Apollo. Overwhelmed by jealousy, Zephyr seeked revenge on Hyacinth. One day Apollo was teaching Hyacinth how to hurl a discus. When Apollo flung the discus, the god of the west wind caused the discus to swerve and hit Hyacinth's head. Hyacinth died and from his blood sprang the homonymous flower. On the hyacinth flower the initial letters of the young Spartan prince can still be read.

Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!

Our online store includes issues of NESTA's quarterly journal, The Earth Scientist, full of classroom activities on different topics in Earth and space science, as well as books on science education!

Windows to the Universe Community

News

Opportunities

You might also be interested in:

Traveling Nitrogen Classroom Activity Kit

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more

Wind

Wind is moving air. Warm air rises, and cool air comes in to take its place. This movement creates different pressures in the atmosphere which creates the winds around the globe. Since the Earth spins,...more

The Four Seasons

The Earth travels around the sun one full time per year. During this year, the seasons change depending on the amount of sunlight reaching the surface and the Earth's tilt as it revolves around the sun....more

Apollo

In Greek mythology, Apollo was the son of Jupiter(in Greek Zeus) and Leto (Letona). He was the god of the Sun, logic, and reason, and was also a fine musician and healer. Leto travelled all over Greece...more

Ahsonnutli

Ahsonnutli was the sky father and chief deity of the Navajo Indians. He created heaven, Earth, and the sky. Each of the four cardinal directions was supported by a giant. Each direction was also associated...more

Amphitrite

Amphitrite was one of the fifty Nereids, the attendants of the sea-god Poseidon. Poseidon (Neptune) had fallen in love with Amphitrite after seeing her dancing on the island of Naxos. Amphitrite rejected...more

Aphrodite

Aphrodite was the Greek goddess of love and beauty. She was known to the Romans as Venus. There were actually two different Aphrodites, one was the daughter of Uranus, the other the daughter of Zeus and...more

Cancer

According to an ancient Greek legend, the figure of a gigantic crab was placed in the nighttime sky by the goddess Hera to form the constellation Cancer. Hera was the jealous wife of the sky god, Zeus....more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA