Friday, May 6, 2011

The Furies

In Greek mythology, they are the three goddesses of vengeance:  Tisiphone, Megaera and Alecto. They were also referred to as the "Daughters of the Night". In actually, they were the offspring of Uranus (the primeval god of the Sky and the first ruler of the Universe) and Gaea (the primeval divinity of the earth). They are sometimes referred to as the Erinyes.

The Furies spared no mercy to those unwise enough to incur their wrath. They were relentless in their pursuit of transgressors of the social order and were particularly vicious to crimes committed against one's mother or father, specifically matricide or patricide. They also took offense against those who would harm society's defenseless e.g., beggars, the sick, the old, the vulnerable. They even protected animals. God help the naughty child who removed a baby bird from its nest or who might mistreat its pet. The Furies would not be far behind. Their mission was to preserve the natural order and acted as society's moral and ethical conscience.

The sisters were also servants of Haides (King of the Underworld and the dead) and Persephone (Queen of the Underworld). Here, they oversaw the torture of criminals sentenced to the Dungeons of the Dammed.

The Furies were no beauties. Blood dripped from their eyes and in lieu of hair snakes resided on their heads. As Virgil wrote, " The Eumenides (Erinyes) with livid snakes entwined in their hair."

Our culture abounds with vestiges of the Furies i.e., Shakespeare's three witches in "Macbeth" or Madame LaFarge in Dickin's "A Tale of Two Cities". We owe our words "infuriated" and "furious" to the Furies. And, unfairly or not, they are the origin for the expression "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned".

Amy bows low at the feet of all her holy teachers.

Compiled and adapted from and

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