What examples do you know of from Greco-Roman myths in which the wind as such impregnates a woman (could be mortal or a goddess)? I'm aware of examples where the wind personalized as a god (e.g., Boreas, Zephyrus) impregnates a woman, which is thought of as sex, but here I'm interested in situations where it is just the wind as such and conception is not portrayed as occurring through implied copulation. There are examples of female animals (mares, hens, etc.) being impregnated by a non-personalized wind, but I'm having trouble coming up with examples of women from myths within the Greco-Roman orbit (there are examples from China, for instance).

  • 1
    If there is not in fact such an occurrence in Graeco-Roman myths, what would an acceptable answer look like to you?
    – cmw
    Dec 17, 2016 at 12:56
  • Thanks for your question. Actually I'm hoping for a positive answer with some examples, but if, as I suspect, the answer is no, then I would hope that the answer would either cite to an authoritative scholarly source(s) that says so, or else at least to go through the closest potential examples (citing to the original accounts) explaining them away. The best secondary source I've seen so far is an old (1936) article by Conway Zirkle, "Animals impregnated by the wind," Isis 25:95-130, which doesn't have any examples of what I'm looking for, and appears to be saying that there are none. Dec 17, 2016 at 18:00
  • 2
    You might find a harder time getting better than that, since people are not prone to stating matter-of-factly that something doesn't exist without there being at least some evidence that there does.
    – cmw
    Dec 17, 2016 at 18:19

1 Answer 1


Because Christ is considered to have been conceived by the Holy Spirit, and spirit and wind are related concepts (Adam, for instance, was animated by the breath of life), I'm going to say

  • the Virgin Mary

Still keeping my ears open for examples from other canons, as this is an extraordinarily interesting question. (I'm actually surprised such myths do no abound, as the underlying concept has a ring of "poetic truth".)

Although I know you are looking for examples of "mundane wind", I'm not entirely sure the concepts of wind and spirit can be separated in this context. I propose the Virgin Mary because the wind/Spirit in this instance must be disembodied per the Jewish tradition.

  • Thanks, but my question doesn't much require us to get into linguistics. But for the record, the word in question is not "psyche," either in Attic or New Testament Greek. The stricter word for wind was animos (so the gods of winds were collectively known as the animoi), while the more flexible term was pneuma. Dec 3, 2016 at 7:06
  • (continued) Pneuma was the term generally used in classical myths when the non-personalized wind impregnated animals, and which was used in the New Testament to refer to the Holy Spirit (pneuma hagion) and the Spirit of God (pneuma Theou), including in the virginal conception of Jesus; this was also the term used in the Septuagint translating from the Hebrew (ruach) for the same, as in Genesis 1.2. So my question remains.... Dec 3, 2016 at 7:06
  • Very good points about usage in the NT. Thanks for providing! I suspect my tendency toward ψυχή is a product of my old Greek teacher. The term is definitely related to the Latin anima in the Middle Liddell. πνεῦμα can carry the meaning of divine inspiration, but it seemed less apropos for this question.
    – DukeZhou
    Aug 1, 2017 at 18:29
  • Well-informed discussions, nice. yet i would like to remind that wind directly translated to spirit/anima/pneuma there is a gap in Greco-Roman myth, except until i pointed out the indian/chi concept of wind related to life force. OT breath from God to Adam reminded for the Hebrews which is Far East not Greco-Roman. Wind is visible with observing the movement, but spirit is not. Thus the Greco-Roman seeing wind as life force this still remains unproven... Aug 2, 2017 at 4:38
  • I kept the intuitive understanding G-R mind sees copulation the only way to produce new life. This can be further supported in many other myths of birth, like Zeus needed to turn to swan, bull, goose (?)... etc. in order to have sex and impregnate his women. Aug 2, 2017 at 4:40

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.