This title occurs in the works of some of the earliest Greek writers, who mention the Greek modes or scales; but it disappears again, and the Aeolian mode is apparently not in question in the time of Plato, Aristotle, and those who immediately followed them.
It reappears again, however, at a later date, and figures, together with a Hypo aeolian mode, in the set of thirteen modes attributed to Aristoxenus; while at a later date still a Hyper aeolian mode was added. It was however not one of those that were generally current or of permanent importance in the history of music; nor did it find a place in the mediaeval system of modes.
When, however, Glareanus tried in his Dodecachordon to establish the relation between the mediaeval western and the Greek systems of modes, he gave the name of Aeolian mode to the scale ranging from A to a, which was the first of the four additional modes added by him to the current eight, in order to make up the number to twelve. This had been until then universally regarded by mediaeval theorists as a mere transposition of the first mode.
The theory of Glareanus was unfortunate, and his innovation only threw further confusion the question, already highly confused, of the relation of Eastern and Western music theory.