Sunday 22 February 2015


                        In Greek mythology, Harpies (singular-Harpy) were described as the beautiful winged maidens, the daughters of of Thaumas by the Electra1, Oceanid nymph of clouds. Harpies were the spirits of sudden, sharp gusts of wind.

 In some versions Harpies were described as ugly creatures with wings. Later in some versions Harpies were described as the female monster in the form of a bird with a human face.

            The Harpies consisted of three sisters Aello ("storm swift"), Ocypete ("the swift wing"),  and Celaeno ("the dark"). However in some versions Harpy named Podarge ("fleet-foot") was described.  Podarge due to her union with Zephyrus, the god of the West Wind, was the mother of Balius and Xanthus, the horses of Achilles.
                                                  When a person suddenly disappeared from the earth, it was said that he had been carried off by the Harpies and gave them as servants to the Erinnyes. In some versions, Harpies were the agents of punishment who abducted people and tortured them on their way to Tartarus. They were vicious, cruel and violent and described as the personifications of the destructive nature of wind.

According to Greek legend, King Phineus of Thrace, was given the gift of prophecy by Zeus. Angry that Phineus gave away the god's secret plan, Zeus punished him by blinding him. Harpies were sent by Zeus as a punishment to harass the blind Phineus, and whenever a meal was placed before him, they darted down from the air and carried it off; In some versions Harpies either devoured the food themselves, or that they dirtied it by dropping upon it some stinking substance, so as to render it unfit to be eaten.
Boreades (Zetes and Calais) and Harpies

                                                                                This continued until the arrival of  the Argonauts. Phineus promised to instruct them respecting the course they had to take, if they would deliver him from the Harpies. When the food for Phineus was laid out on a table, the Harpies immediately came, and were attacked by the Boreades, ( Zetes and Calais) sons of Boreas, the god of north wind, who were among the Argonauts, and provided with wings. The Boreades succeeded in driving off the harpies, but without killing any of them, following a request from Iris, who promised that Phineus would not be bothered by the Harpies again.


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