According to a classical legend, the north, south, east and west winds (called Boreas, Notus, Eurus and Zephyrus respectively) were governed by the god Aiolus, who kept them imprisoned in a cave in Thrace. The winds of Aiolus were generally considered benevolent and useful, contrary to the more violent storms governed by Typhoeus.

After the Trojan War, Odysseus asked Aiolus to confine all the harmful and unfavourable winds in a sack, in order to guarantee a safe journey home for Odysses' ship and his crew. Aiolus agreed and handed the bag over to Odysseus. Unfortunately his crew opened it in the belief that it contained treasure. The winds immediately escaped, a horrible strom broke out and as we know, it took Odysseus some time to get safely back home again.

The names of the lesser winds in Latin are Argestes (north-east), Corus (north-west), Volturnus (south-east) and Afer Ventus, Africus or Libs for south-west.

Boreas and Caecias, and Argestes loud,
And Thrascias rend the woods, and seas upturn,
Notus and Afer, black with thunderous clouds,
From Serrallona. Thwart of these, as fierce,
Forth rush... Eurus and Zephyr...
Sirocco and Libecchio.

John Milton: Paradise Lost

For specially named winds see: