The Aeolians (/ˈliənz/; Greek: Αἰολεῖς) were one of the four major tribes in which Greeks divided themselves in the ancient period (along with the Achaeans, Dorians and Ionians).[1][2]


Their name mythologically derives from Aeolus, the mythical ancestor of the Aeolians and son of Hellen, the mythical patriarch of the Greek nation; it actually comes from Greek term aiolos (αίολος) meaning "quickly moving".[3] The dialect of ancient Greek they spoke is referred to as Aeolic.[2]


Originating in Thessaly, a part of which was called Aeolis, the Aeolians often appear as the most numerous amongst the other Hellenic tribes of early times.[2] The Boeotians, a subgroup of the Aeolians, were driven from Thessaly by the Thessalians and moved their location to Boeotia.[2] Aeolian peoples were spread in many other parts of Greece such as Aetolia, Locris, Corinth, Elis and Messinia.[2] During the Dorian invasion, Aeolians from Thessaly fled across the Aegean Sea to the island of Lesbos and the region of Aeolis, called as such after them, in Asia Minor.[2]

Early recordEdit

According to Herodotus, it was said that the Aeolians were previously called Pelasgians.[4]

See alsoEdit



  1. ^ Hard 2004, pp. 401–436.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Smith 1856, pp. 50–51.
  3. ^ Harper, Douglas (2001–2020). "Aeolian". Online Etymology Dictionary.
  4. ^ Herodotus, The Histories, 7.95: "The Aeolians furnished sixty ships and were equipped like Greeks; formerly they were called Pelasgian, as the Greek story goes."