The Aeolians (//; 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). Their name derives from Aeolus, the mythical ancestor of the Aeolic branch and son of Hellen, the mythical patriarch of the Greek nation. The dialect of ancient Greek they spoke is referred to as Aeolic.
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. The Boeotians, a subgroup of the Aeolians, were driven from Thessaly by the Thessalians and moved their location to Boeotia. Aeolian peoples were spread in many other parts of Greece such as Aetolia, Locris, Corinth, Elis and Messenia. 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.
- Herodotus, The Histories, 7.95, on Perseus: "The Aeolians furnished sixty ships and were equipped like Greeks; formerly they were called Pelasgian, as the Greek story goes."