Last Update: 28 Mar 2021
Odysseus and the Bag of Aeolos
While sailing across the sea with his companions, Odysseus one day reached the floating island of Aeolia, where Aeolos, the guardian of the winds, was king.
Aeolos was a friend of the gods and Zeus had put him in charge of controlling the winds. He lived with his wife and twelve children in a bronze castle with steep and slippery stones and his castle was not accessible to anyone.
After hosting Odysseus as a guest for a month, Aeolus gave him a bag made of oxhide in which he had caught all the strong winds. Odysseus fastened the bag tightly to the ship. Of all the winds in the bag, only the mild Zephyr was allowed to blow, so Odysseus had a peaceful voyage.
For nine days Odysseus sailed with his companions, day and night, until he finally approached Ithaca. Odysseus could already see the smoke rising from the city...when he suddenly fell asleep.
The companions said to each other:
"How does he manage to be favored by all the gods everywhere he goes?
No doubt he has his hands full of loot. But what about us? We have made the same journey, but our hands are empty!"
"Let us open the pouch of Aeolos," suggested a companion. "I bet it's full of gold and silver!"
They all agreed, and quickly they untied the pouch and released the winds.
Swept away by the force of the winds, they headed back the way they had come.
Odysseus was desperate. Without wasting any time, he went back to Aeolos and asked for help.
"Aeolos, I have been deceived, please show mercy and send me a favorable wind!"
But Aeolus was indignant and called out to Odysseus:
"Go away, you vile man! I cannot save you because the gods are working against you!"
With these words he drove Odysseus from the island. Odysseus and his companions had no choice but to continue their journey with a much greater effort than before.