The Furies
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Origin:

The origin of the furies is frequently disputed, but the most widely accepted myth is that they were the daughters of and Gaea. It is said that Uranus’s son Cronus was removing his father’s genitals, and a couple spare drops of blood fell from the wound, out of the sky, and landed on Gaea (Mother Earth), leaving her impregnated with the Furies.

"...and Cronus cut off his father's genitals and threw them into the sea; and from the drops of the flowing blood were born Furies, to wit, Alecto, Tisiphone, and Megaera."

Apollodorus, Library and Epitome (ed. Sir James George Frazer)

There are some versions of their birth though, that claim that they were the daughters of Gaea and Nyx (God of Night), which is where they recieved the title “Daughters of the Night.” Another version actually depicts them as spawning from Eurynome and Cronus, making them sisters to the Fates.



Who They Are:

The three Furies’ names are as follows-

Tisiphone (avenger of murder)

Megaera (the jealous)

Alecto (constant anger)

The Furies’ real name “Erinnyes” comes from the Greek verb “erinÔ”, meaning “to hunt down” or “to prosecute.” They believed that the absolute worst possible crimes one could commit were patricide and matricide; the killing of your mother and father. The furies would chase those who committed crimes, that they may not have been punished for by the court, and make sure that they received punishment for all their wrong doings. Usually they were depicted as ugly winged creatures with snakes for hair, blood dripping from their eyes, and the head and face of a dog.

The home of the furies was said to be one of two places. Some myths say that they resided at the entrance to Tartarus, a dark place in Hades where souls were sent into exile. While other myths claim that they lived in Erebus, the darkest pit of the underworld. One thing that is agreed upon however is that all those who were sent to the Furies were doomed to a life (in death) of relentless torment.


Notable Roman References:

The furies are notoriously known for their role in the story of Oedipus. This is a prime example of how unforgiving and unreasonable the Furies can be in their quest to punish those who murder their parents. In the case of Oedipus, not only was Oedipus acting in self-defense when he murdered his father. He also had no idea at the time that the man he killed was his father. This however was of no consequence to the Furies and made sure he suffered later in his life for his heinous crime.

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Sources:

1.“Furies, Greece, Greek Mythology." In2Greece.com - Travel Guide to Greece Greek Islands History Mythology and Maps. Web. 03 May 2011. http://www.in2greece.com/english/historymyth/mythology/names/furies.htm

2. "MYTH MAN'S FURIES PAGE." Thanasi's Greek Restaurant. Web. 03 May 2011. http://thanasis.com/modern/furies.htm

3. "By the Gods! — Erinyes/Furies Erinyes, or “the Gracious Ones,”..." By the Gods! Web. 03 May 2011. http://bythegods.tumblr.com/post/525055237/erinyes-furies-erinyes-or-the-gracious-ones