Mythical Creatures, Research, Writing

#MythicalCreatureMonday – Erinyes or the #Furies

In Greek Mythology, the Erinyes (Roman: Furies) were the goddesses of vengeance and retribution. They were depicted as ugly, winged women, similar to Harpies, but with poisonous serpents coiled around their waists and arms. They served Hades (Roman:Pluto) and Persephone in the underworld, where they made sure that the criminals sent there were properly tortured for their crimes. In Roman Art, they were given the names, Alecto (unceasing anger), Megaera (the jealous one) and Tisiphone (avenging murder). Their names alone would make me avoid them, but there were some folks that just couldn’t help earning their wrath. It was those people they tormented without end.

The earliest mention of them in literature are in works by Hesiod and Homer. It was written that when the blood of the castrated Uranus hit the ground, the furies sprang forth from it, so they are thought of as the daughters of Earth and Sky. After his man parts were tossed into the sea, Aphrodite was also born from the foam that gathered around it. I can’t imagine someone known as the goddess of love and beauty would consider the hideous winged creatures as family, but in a strange sense, that is exactly what they were. Sisters. I think there may be a story there…


Anyway, the Erinyes were the punishers of wrongdoings, especially to those who did their own family members dirty or broke an oath. I suppose that came from Uranus being attacked by his own son Cronus. It only makes sense that his blood would create creatures that administer familial vengeance, especially considering all that he went through. I mean think about it, Cronus cut off his… well… you get the idea.

I was especially interested in the Furies power to cause someone to not use reason, leading them to make unusual and stupid choices. It is quite possible that they have been around lately, since I sure do see a lot of this, totally kidding…or am I? Just saying, if the sandal fits…

In “The Oresteia” trilogy by the ancient Greek playwright Aeschylus, the Erinyes follow a man accused of murdering his mother to Athens where he begs the goddess Athena to spare him. After deciding by trial that he is acquitted, Athena renames the winged ladies as Eumendies, (The Kindly Ones) and puts them in charge of protecting justice instead of vehicles of vengeance. It is quite possible that the ladies embraced the changes to their job title, but quietly kept tabs on those who escaped justice and dealt with them the old-fashioned way. It is in this vein that my mind wanders when thinking about my next project.

For more on these Mythical Creatures, here are some links I found along the way. In the meantime, drop me a comment and let me know if there are any Mythical Creatures you are interested in that you would like to see in future posts. Happy Writing! XO

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