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N.S. Gill

Who Is Irene's Greek God?

By August 25, 2011

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Did you know that the name Irene -- a name given some Byzantine queens -- comes from the Greek word for peace? Obviously, we don't name hurricanes on the basis of etymology. I was trying to find the Greek god of hurricanes (not the Greek peace goddess, Eirene, one of the Horai), but I'm not entirely convinced I found it. Based on the Theoi site, it appears to be one of the Harpies, Θυελλα (Thuella). Here is a sample:
They undid the bag, the winds (anemoi) rushed out all together, and in a moment a tempest (thuella) had seized my crew and was driving them--now all in tears--back to the open sea and away from home. I myself awoke, and wondered if now I should throw myself overboard and be drowned in ocean or if I should bear it all in silence and stay among the living. I did bear it and did remain, but covered my face as I lay on deck. My own ship and the others with it were carried back by raging storm (anemos thuella) to the island of Aiolos, amid the groaning of all my company."
Odyssey 10
If you have another suggestion for the identity of the Greek (or Roman) god of hurricanes, please post in the comments.

About.com's Photography Guide has some advice for potential victims of Thuella -- or Irene's wrath: Using Photography to Recover from Disasters.


September 23, 2011 at 12:26 pm
(1) forrest says:

Does the Mediterranean have hurricanes? In the case of praying for calm seas and fair winds, I believe the Argives used to propitiate Castor and Polyduces (who are often identified with the Gemini constellation and are twin brothers of Helen).

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