77. Boreas and Oreithyia

Once upon a time, Boreas, son of Eos and Astraeus, was inflamed with love for the fair-cheeked Oreithyia, daughter of Praxithea and King Erechtheus of Athens. With gentleness and agreeable speeches, Boreas asked Erechtheus for the hand of Oreithyia. But Erechtheus took light of his kind words and declined Boreas’ wish.

Boreas refused to suffer humiliation and debase himself to weakness. After all, he was mighty Boreas, the great cold North wind. His might was his right and violence was his strength. Great actions comprised his drink of life. The snow was broken by him. He could drive out the gloomy clouds, toss the waters of the seas, and uproot large oak trees. He could pelt the Earth with hail and sleet. Rushing through limitless spaces, the hollow clouds rumbled his fury. The farthest caves of the Earth were penetrated by him, and from those limitless deeps, the terror-stricken shades of hell scattered away. With such powers at his command, Boreas concluded that force was the law of life, and using force, he decided to abduct Oreithyia.

Thus, the impetuous Boreas, spread out his rustling wings, traveled across mountain summits, wide seas, and reached Athens. There, while the men of Erechtheus were busy closing the gates and windows, which were furiously flapping in the gusty wind, Boreas forced himself into the palace. In sheer contempt of Erechtheus, who had rejected him as a suitor, Boreas caught Oreithyia and keeping her close to his breast, he flew away. Swiftly crossing great lands, his large wings fanned the cold winds near Ciconian Walls, where Oreithyia willingly became his wife.

Oreithyia gave birth to Cleopatra, Chione, Zetes, and Calais. The hero twin sons, Zetes and Calais, had their mother’s face, but like their immortal father, they had bird-like wings, which appeared when their golden hair and beards had grown. Later, they joined the Argonauts, to help find the Golden Fleece.

Excerpt from the book “Once Upon A Time-II: 150 Greek Mythology Stories” by Rajen Jani

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