Key words£ºUlysses, Eolus,  Bag of Winds
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Genre£ºMyth Topic£ºwind Words: 580
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ESL,  English,  Story,  Tale,  Legend, Folktale, Myth, Fable, Learning, Teaching

"Guard the bag of winds carefully.
And do not let anyone untie the chain."

Ulysses and his Bag of Winds


Author£ºUnknown Source£º
Nation£ºRoman Date£º2008-9-26


(Aeolus, 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 mountains.

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 stormy sea.

¡°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.

(Odysseus offering wine to the Cyclops)


1. Who was Eolus?

2. How would Eolus help Ulysses to reach his home? 

3. Why was Ulysses' ship driven far from his land on the tenth day?

4. What can we learn from the story? 


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