Lesser Wind Deities of Greece: Kaikias, Apeliotes, Skiron & Lips

Instructor: Sunday Moulton

Sunday recently earned a PhD in Anthropology and has taught college courses in Anthropology, English, and high school ACT/SAT Prep.

In this lesson, we explore the lesser known wind deities of Greece: Kaikias, Apeliotes, Skiron, and Lips. Within, we learn what winds they rule, their temperaments, their effect on ancient Greek life, and how we gained this information from art.

The Lesser Winds

The majority of classical Greek writing identifies the winds incarnate as those blowing from the four cardinal directions of north, south, east, and west. These winds are Zephyrus, Boreas, Notus, and Eurus. Little is said about winds from the northeast, southeast, northwest, or southwest, yet these too have deities attached to them. Sometimes called the lesser winds, these mythical gods of the air are Kaikias of the northeast, Apeliotes of the southeast, Lips of the southwest, and Skiron of the northwest.


As stated above, Kaikias ruled the northeast winds. His name comes from the Greek word for badness or evil. Unlike the major winds who are affiliated with seasons, Greeks associated Kaikias with violent summer storms. In art, he appears as a stern, bearded man pouring hailstones from his shield onto helpless mortals.



The personality of Apeliotes, ruler of the southeast winds, differs from Kaikias greatly. His winds brought the gentle rains of spring and summer, particularly important to nourishing crops. In painting and sculpture, he appears as a kind, young man wearing a light cloth and cloak. In his cloak, he carries fruit, grain, and sometimes flowers, symbols of the fertility his winds bring.



Skiron, ruler of the northwest winds, also shares Kaikias' association with violent storms. Where his brother brings hail, Skiron brings the blistering summer heat and the fiery lightning of the storms. Interestingly, he is also associated with the very beginning of winter when the dry air kills off vegetation. In art, he appears as a bearded man pouring out a cauldron or brazier of hot coals to kill plants and torment the people.



Lips, the embodiment of the southwest wind, displayed an unpredictable character. When he showed kindness, like his brother Apeliotes, he brought excellent winds for sailing. At his worst, much like his brother Kaikias, he was seen as the destroyer of ships who brought fierce winds to wreck vessels. However, this was not always a bad thing, considering his wind helped to wreck the attacking Persian fleet. His association with sailing appears in several classical artwork depictions, portraying him as a barefoot young man holding a part of a ship's stern.


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