Eolus, Bag of Winds
Story, Tale, Legend, Folktale, Myth,
Fable, Learning, Teaching
"Guard the bag of
And do not let anyone untie the chain."
Ulysses and his Bag of
keeper of the winds)
Long, long ago, there lived upon
a little island a Greek king named Ulysses. One time Ulysses
sailed far away across the sea to fight for his country, and for
ten long years he was away from his beautiful wife and his
little son. At last the Greeks captured the city they were
fighting against, and the war ended. ¡°Now I can go back to my
island home,¡± said Ulysses, joyfully, as he and his men set sail
for home. ¡°Once more I can see my wife and son!¡±
On the way, they stopped to rest
at the home of a king named Eolus, who lived on an island in the
sea. It was a wonderful island; all around it was a high wall of
bronze. Eolus was king of the winds. He could make the winds
sleep so soundly that the sea would be as smooth as glass, or he
could make them blow so hard that the waves would be as high as
When Ulysses was ready to start
on his way again, Eolus said, ¡°I will help you to reach your
home, Ulysses. I will put all the stormy winds in this great bag
of ox-hide. Then they cannot harm you. ¡°I will the bag with this
golden chain; but I will leave out the gentle west wind,
which would bear you safely home.
Guard the bag of winds carefully. And do not let anyone untie
the chain.¡± Then the west wind blew softly and sent them in
safety on their way.
For nine days and nine nights
Ulysses guarded the bag of winds, until at last he became very
tired and sleepy. Now the men with Ulysses did not know what was
in the great bag. ¡°See how he guards it!¡± they said. ¡°Surely it
has gold and silver in it, for it is tied with a golden chain.
We helped Ulysses in the war; why should he have all the gold
and the silver?¡±
At last, on the tenth day, they
came in sight of their dear island. ¡°Look, look!¡± cried the men,
joyfully. ¡°There are our green fields! Soon we shall see our
homes.¡± Then the weary Ulysses, thinking that he need not guard
the bag any longer, fell fast asleep.
¡°Now we can see what is in the
bag!¡± so they crept up to the bag and untied the golden chain.
Out flew all the stormy winds, roaring and howling! In a moment,
great waves arose and drove the ship far from the land. The
noise of the winds and the waves awoke Ulysses. Where was his
little island home? Where were the green fields he loved so
well? They were far, far away, for the ship was out on the
¡°Oh, what shall I do?¡± cried
Ulysses. ¡°I fear that I shall never see my home again. But I
must not give up; I will try again and again. Some day I may
reach my home, and see my wife and son once more.¡±
After a long time, the stormy
winds drove the ship back to the island where Eolus lived.
¡°Eolus can help us,¡± said Ulysses. But Eolus was angry with
Ulysses and his men. ¡°Go away!¡± Eolus said. ¡°I will not help you
a second time, for it is your own fault that he stormy winds are
out of the bag.¡± So once more Ulysses set out upon the sea, and
it was many long years before he saw his island home again.