The Erinyes were "the Angry Ones" known in Greek and Roman mythology as the Furies. Alecto "the angry" (endless), Tisiphone "the avenger" (punishment), and Megaera "the grudging" (jealous rage) were the three netherworld goddesses of justice and vengeance. The sisters are usually depicted as terrifying, foul-smelling beings with burning breath and poisonous blood dripping from their eyes. The monstrous sisters had bats' wings, black skin, and hair weaved with sepents. The Furies often carried whips, torches, and venom to torture their victims. As defenders of morality and integrity, they punished the evil and guilty mercilessly. Although the Furies hurt humans without pity, the good and pure people had little to fear from them.
Origin and FamilyEdit
The Furies, Alecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone, were created by the blood of Uranus, the god of the sky, when his son Cronus castrated him to avenge the deaths of his siblings. Uranus' blood dropletes fell on "Mother Earth" or Gaea, which impregnated her with the three Furies. Other legends state that Cronus threw his father's genitals into the sea, and the Furies were born by the blood. According to another legend, the Furies were daughters of the Nyx, who is the daughter of Chaos and symbolized night.
Oresteia, a play written by Greek dramatist Aeschylus, tells the story of the Orestes who killed his mother to avenge his father's murder. Orestes lured his mother, Clytamnestra, into a fatal trap fulfilling his duty to Apollo. However after he completed his task, Orestes was contiunously tormented by the terrible Furies. He was chased by the sisters until he reached Delphi, where he was told by Apollo to seek Athena for she would arrange a trial by Areopagus, the ancient Athenian court. Through threats and bribes made by Athena, Orestes' charges were dropeed and he was freed by the satisfied Furies, who were known afterward as the Eumenides or 'kindly ones.'
In Oedipus Rex, Oedipus' mother and wife hangs herself. According to legend, Jocasta's Furies cursed Oedipus' lineage. The Odyssey reveals what truly cursed Oedipus: "Steep down from a high rafter, throttled in her noose, she swung, carried away by pain, and left his endless agony from a mother's Furies." Also in The Odyssey, Antinoos is cursed by his father, for the Furies would avenge the poor man's wrongs and Antinoos would die before he was married.
In Sophocles' play Oedipus at Colonus, Oedipus was as a blind beggar who was banished from Thebes. He had paid penance for his blood crimes, although he admitted that he was not responsible for the actions he was destined to commit. Oedipus was told by Apollo that he would die in a place dedicated to the Furies. When Oedipus and his daughter, Antigone, realize they are in Colonus and are standing on the sacred grounds of the Fureis, Oedopus demands to see Theseus, the Athenian king. Oedipus knew death was near when he heard thunder, so he led his daughters, Ismene and Antigone, and King Theseus to the Furies' grove; however, Theseus was the only one to witness Oedipus killing himself. Athens received his protection and blessings from Oedipus' death, and Thebes is plagued with his curse.
The three Furies had many powers that allowed them to punish the wrongdoers of Earth. The sisters were evil, vengeful creatures from the underworld who were filled with rage. They had bats' wings, venom, and burning breath which they used to torture their victims. The poisonous blood of their eyes was another one of the Furies' numerous ways to inflict pain.
- The Furies could appear as storm clouds or swarms of insects.
- The words "furious" and "infuriated" are derived from these mythical beings.
- "Female Furies" are three DC Comics superheroes who are based on Greek mythology.
- The Furies were a part of the popular television show "Charmed." They made their first appearance in the episode "Hell Hath No Fury."
1. "Demigods & Spirits » Erinyes, the Goddesses of Revenge and Retribution." Furies (Erinyes) , the Goddesses of Justice and Revenge in Greek Mythology. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Apr. 2013.
2. "The Book of Threes." The Book of Threes. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Apr. 2013.
3. "ERINYES : Greek Goddesses of Retribution, the Furies ; Mythology ; Pictures : ERINNYES." ERINYES : Greek Goddesses of Retribution, the Furies ; Mythology ; Pictures : ERINNYES. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Apr. 2013.
4. "Myths Encyclopedia." Furies. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Apr. 2013.
5. "Furies, Greece, Greek Mythology." Furies, Greece, Greek Mythology. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Apr. 2013.
6. "Erinyes." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 04 Oct. 2013. Web. 12 Apr. 2013.
7. "Oedipus at Colonus." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 13 Apr. 2013. Web. 12 Apr. 2013.