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(texte français: cliquez ici)   Aeolus' kingdom


The object of the 1999 expedition to Sardinia, Sicily and the Lipari Islands was to understand the ecological and historical grounds Which in Homer's texts assigned the mythological kingdom of winds to Aeolus.
Winds of Lipari islands
Aeolus' kingdom
Squall phenomenon
Extract from ship's log
5 Signs of squall
Meteorological explanation
Weather prediction
Stakes of weather prediction
The archpelago of Eolian Islands : Strait of Vulcano.
Aeolus receives Odysseus and his troup ostentatiously, during a whole month, invites them to banquet, listens to the Greek hero who narrates him the Trojan War. Then, when Odysseus and his men want to leave and come back to their natal island, Ithaca in the Ionian Sea, he provides them with the only resource he really controls, the winds : "He flays a nine years bull, sews up its skin with all impetuous winds inside, since Cronus' son (Zeus) has made him the lord of the winds : at will he excites or appeases them. He gives me the bag whose shining silver string does not let escape any breeze ; he comes and fixes it in my boat ; then he makes me blow the breath of a zephyr that must bring us home, men and boats" (v.19-27). The text is as clear as could be : Aeolus' function consists in managing the winds, by distributing, ordering or dispensing them with various force and direction. And the narrator describes Aeolus' operations : first he imposes calm by keeping the winds shut up in the leather bag ; then he produces a light north-west wind, zephuros, proper to drive the fleet of Greek warriors from the Stromboli to the Strait of Messina and beyond to the Strait of Otranto and Ithaca (map). One knows how the epic narration goes on : Odysseus' companions take the wind bag and open it. Immediately the winds break out and a sudden south-east storm, thuella, (v. 48), drives the fleet back to its starting point. Furious, Aeolus and his people reject Odysseus and his men who "are hated by fortunate gods". We have here the epic narration of the difficult contact experienced by archaic Greek with islands subjected to surprising weather conditions and with unknown people. We have here a very exact description of sudden weather changes to which foreign navigaors were exposed in these waters, of these violent and unforeseen south-east winds that Lipariots today call bourrascas, squalls. It is these sudden and unceasing weather changes that we want to study. 
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