Zephyrus The Awakener
Come, thou awakener of the spirit’s ocean,
Zephyr, whom to thy cloud or cave
No thought can trace! speed with thy gentle motion! –Percy Bysshe Shelley
“ZEPHYROS (or Zephyrus) was the god of the west wind, one of the four directionalAnemoi (Wind-Gods). He was also the god of spring, husband of Khloris (Greenery), and father of Karpos (Fruit).”–via Theoi.com
Zephyrus kisses Flora’s arm as he wraps a garland of white roses around her (symbolic of sexual awakening?). Although she is surrounded by beautiful nymphs, his focus on Flora is constant. This is a story of transfiguration: Flora is transformed into the goddess of flowers.
In a tale told by Ovid, Boreas was the North Wind and the brother of Zephyrus. Smitten with the maiden Oreithyia, who rejected him, he abducted her as she was picking flowers and married her.
Waterhouse depicted Flora in a posture that could be interpreted as open and receptive to Zephyrus. There’s a different attitude in Boreas: swathed in her drapery, Oreithyia has her arms lifted in a protective pose, attempting to shield herself from the wind. She seems to mimic the fetal position.
Waterhouse also visits wind as a subject in 1903’s Windflowers. Here her arms are less protective and more indicative of the personal chaos of being caught in the wind as she attempts to both hold her hair in place and keep control of her skirt and flowers.