Boreas (Greek, "North Wind") was the Greek god of the cold north wind and the bringer of winter. Boreas is depicted as being very strong, with a violent temper to match. He was frequently shown as a winged old man with shaggy hair and beard, holding a conch shell and wearing a billowing cloak. Pausanias wrote that Boreas had snakes instead of feet, though in art he was usually depicted with winged human feet.
Boreas was closely associated with horses. He was said to have fathered twelve colts after taking the form of a stallion, to the mares of Erichthonius, king of Troy. The Greeks believed that his home was in Thrace, and Herodotus and Pliny both describe a northern land known as Hyperborea ("Beyond the North Wind"), where people lived in complete happiness and had extraordinarily long lifespan.
Boreas was also said to have kidnapped Oreithyia, an Athenian princess, from the River Illissus. Boreas had taken a fancy to Oreithyia, and had initially pleaded for her favours, hoping to persuade her. When this failed, he reverted to his usual temper and abducted her as she danced on the banks of the Illissus. Boreas wrapped Oreithyia up in a cloud, raped her, and with her, Boreas fathered two sons—the Boreads, Zetes and Calais—and two daughters—Chione and Cleopatra.
From then on, the Athenians saw Boreas as a relative by marriage. When Athens was threatened by Xerxes, the people prayed to Boreas, who was said to have then caused winds to sink 400 Persian ships.
The Roman equivalent of Boreas was Aquilo, or Aquilon. An alternate, rarer name used for the northern wind was Septentrio, a word derived from septem triones ("seven oxen") referring to the seven prominent stars in the northern constellation Ursa Major. Septentrio is also the source of the obscure word septentrional, a synonym for boreal meaning "northern".