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Registered: 09-2007
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Harpies, in classical Greek mythology and in Virgil's Aeneid, were flying monsters who tormented people and snatched food and other objects. Their name translates as "snatchers."
The Harpies, often but not always represented as a triad, were sisters connected with the winds. There were three or four Harpies, depending on the myth.

In some myths, their parents were Gaia and the Old Man of the Sea. In others, their parents were children of the Sea, siblings, and thus the Harpies were born of incest. They were so hideous that their parents hid them away. They were released when the gods needed them to torment and punish.

In Homer and other early representations, the Harpies were storm winds:

Aello - squall or hurricane
Okypete - swift-flying
Celaeno - dark (as a storm cloud is dark)
Podarge - swift-foot (mother, by Zephyrus the West Wind, of Xanthus and Balius, the horses of Achilles)

The Harpies were depicted with women's faces and the bodies of vultures. Their wings, talons, and beaks were strong -- the talons depicted as of bronze, the beaks able to break rocks, the wings made of steel.

In the myth of the Jason and the Argonauts, the Harpies were called by the gods to torture the Thracian king Phineus by pecking out his eyes and snatching the food from his table at every meal. Phineus made a deal with the Argonauts to drive the Harpies away.

In the myth of Aeneas, the Harpies attacked Aeneas and his crew members. One Harpy predicted a time when the Trojans will eat their tables, and the Harpies all snatched the food of the Trojans on their journey.

Less dramatically, the Harpies were believed to be responsible for snatching objects which were missing around the house.

In earlier versions of Greek myth, Harpies were described as beautiful, winged maidens. Later they became winged monsters with the face of an ugly old woman and equipped with crooked, sharp talons. They were represented carrying off persons to the underworld and inflicting punishment or tormenting them. Those persons were never seen again. They robbed the food from Phineus, but were driven away by Cailas and Zetes, the Boreads, and since then they lived on the Strophades.

Last edited by RealmWalker, Sep/19/2007, 7:39 pm

When a mystery is too overpowering, one dare not disobey
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