Calais and Zetes, otherwise know as the Boreads stand out among the Argonauts, largely because of their distinct appearance. They were the sons of Boreas, the god of the North Wind, and were each born with two large wings on their backs, giving them the gift of flight.


The Boreads play an important role in the quest when the Argonauts seek the advice of Phineas, the seer. Phineas was a seer or prophet of extraordinary skill who could tell the future to humans. This angered Zeus, as he believed Phineas was passing on divine knowledge that was not meant for mortals. And so Zeus sent vicious monsters called harpies, who were half-bird, half-woman, to torture Phineas by stealing his food whenever he tried to eat. The Boreads set a trap for the harpies, presenting Phineas with a meal. As soon as Phineas tried to eat his food, the Harpies appeared and tried to attack him. The Boreads them chased the harpies away from the seer, but were stopped from killing the monsters by the goddess Iris, who promised that Phineas would never be tortured again. Phineas told the Argonauts how to pass through the Symplegades, a pair of giant rocks which would collide and crush anyone who sailed through their strait. Phineas told the Argonauts to send a bird through the strait first, causing the rocks to try to crush the bird. While the rocks were opening again, the Argonauts would have the opportunity to sail through before they could shut again. In the end, both the bird and the Argo made it through - though the bird lost the tip of its tail feathers, and the Argo lost the tip of its stern.


The Boreads also played a part in the Argonauts’ desertion of Hercules at Mysia, a decision which would later result in their death. While Hercules was searching for his lover Hylas at Mysia, the Boreads convinced the rest of the Argonauts that Hercules was wasting time. They advised the crew to set sail without him. The Boreads succeeded and Hercules was left behind. Never forgetting an insult, however, Hercules made sure he tracked down the Boreads years later and killed them, shooting them with arrows as they tried to fly away.

© Hellenic Museum Argonauts Club