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.
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Image courtesy of Planet Art.


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.

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