In Greek myths, you may encounter the supernatural personifications of the anger associated with the dead. They are known as the Erinyes (or the three Furies). Their name translates into ‘the angry ones’ and rightfully so. In this article, you will learn how the Furies came to be and learn information about each individual personification.
The Creation of the Furies
To explore the creation of the Furies, you should become familiar with the Greek myth that tells the story of the Titan Cronus, who castrates his father Uranus and tosses his genitalia into the sea. It is from the drops of blood that the Erinyes emerge. There is another tale that states the Furies came from Nyx (also known as ‘Night’). The Furies then appeared in many ancient myths and literary pieces. Virgil described the Erinyes as being associated with serpents with their eyes dripping in blood. The sight of the ladies was thought to be terrifying. Other descriptions of their appearance included the body of a dog with the wings of a bat or bird.
A Play with the Furies
Aeschylus, who is the first of the three ancient Greek tragedians to have his work survive the test of time, mentions the Erinyes in ‘Eumenides.’ He wrote that the Erinyes chased Orestes to avenge Clytemnestra, his mother. Orestes had killed Clytemnestra to seek revenge for the murder of his father, Agamemnon. Orestes is chased to Athens, where Athena gets involved. She and the Athenians play judge and jury to see if Orestes deserves a fate at the hands of the Erinyes. They ultimately rule in favor of Orestes. However, the Erinyes do not leave empty handed. They are given the love of Athens and are renamed the Eumenides, which means they are the Kind-Hearted Ones. They trade in their black robes and are given red robes to signify this change.
The Three Furies
Alecto , Known as “the implacable or unceasing anger,” Alecto possesses the task of punishing the moral crimes (including anger), especially when they are against other people. She makes an appearance in some of the writings of Virgil (Aeneid) and Dante (Inferno) as one of the three Erinyes.
Megaera , Referred to as the ‘jealous one,’ Megaera is at the root of jealousy and envy. She also punished people who commit crimes, and especially addresses the infidelities of marriage. Depending on the culture, her name (or derivatives of it) are used to refer a jealous or spiteful woman, and in some cases , an evil or unattractive woman.
Tisiphone , When it comes to crimes of murder, Tisiphone plays an important role as the one who acts as the punished. This is why her name means ‘avenging murder.’ Virgil mentions her in Book VI of Aeneid, where she is described as the angry and mean guardian of the gates of Tartarus.