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Iconic E: Erinnyes are Furious

I gave serious  thought to doing the Every Woman thing, or even Every Town for Gun Safety, but decided the stretch would be possible but not fun.
Then, I had an epiphany, I remembered that the Furies were first called Erinyes.  Furies were not females to be messed with.
According to Robert Graves in, The Greek Myths, of which you may download a PDF copy here, when Chronos, the youngest of the seven Titans, castrates his father and throws the testes into the sea.

But drops of blood flowing from the wound fell upon Mother Earth, and she bore the Three
Erinnyes, furies who avenge crimes of parricide and perjury — by name Alecto, Tisiphone,
and Megaera.

This lets you know how the ancients felt about killing one’s parents and about swearing a false oath.
Alecto castigated moral crimes against mortals. Tisiphone punished crimes of murder: parricide, fratricide and homicide. Megaera punishes people who commit infidelity.
Graves later describes them more fully:

Tisiphone, Alecto, and Megaera, the Erinnyes or Furies, live in Erebus, and are older
than Zeus or any of the other Olympians. Their task is to hear complaints brought by mortals
against the insolence of the young to the aged, of children to parents, of hosts to guests, and of householders or city councils to suppliants—and to punish such crimes by hounding the
culprits relentlessly, without rest or pause, from city to city and from country to country.
These Erinnyes are crones, with snakes for hair, dogs’ heads, coal-black bodies, bats’ wings,
and bloodshot eyes. In their hands they carry brass-studded scourges, and their victims die in
torment. It is unwise to mention them by name in conversation; hence they are usually styled
the Eumenides, which means ‘The Kindly Ones’—as Hades is styled Pluton, or Pluto, ‘The
Rich One’.

 
No classic, ancient tale is complete without some confusion and contradiction.  So it is with the Erinnyes.
They sprang from the blood of their castrated father, but the real unforgivable sin is shown in their torment of Orestes, which told in many narratives including the Orestes Tales of Sophocles is actually about matricide.  Many, Graves included, thought this  reflected the patriarchal usurping of the Mother Goddess.
William-AdolpheBouguereau1825-1905-TheRemorseofOrestes1862
But no matter what the Furies were furious about, just try to think about the phrase, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned”  which actually first read as a proper attribution of a woman acting like a Fury, now that you have read this article and not have an image of these ancient iconic fems cross your mind.

Heav’n has no Rage, like Love to Hatred turn’d, Nor Hell a Fury, like a Woman scorn’d

in the 1697 play The Mourning Bride (Act III Scene 2) by William Congreve.
 

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8 Comments

    1. I suspect the amount of infidelity must have been fairly high then too to have invented immortals to deal with it. 🙂

  1. I’ve been into mythorlogy (and especially classic mythology) sinse I was a kid, and I’ve always been fascinated with these three sisters. They stood for very powerful emotion and for principles that were the heart of the Greek society. It’s actualy quite interesting that they were women, now that I think about it.

    1. Yes, the Furies show how powerful women were thought to be, how they could not be fenced in, how they were a force of nature.

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