The Erinyes, also spelled Erinys, were three Greek goddesses commonly referred to as the Furies. They were goddesses of retribution and vengeance whose job was to punish men who committed heinous crimes. The Furies tended to judge men who committed murder, perjury, and offenses committed against the gods themselves. When a victim sought justice for a crime, they could call the Furies down to curse the criminal.
The most powerful curse that the Furies could wield was the curse given from a parent to their child. This is because the Furies were born from this type of crime. They sprang up from the blood of Ouranos after he had been castrated by his son, Cronos.
The Erinyes would inflict their wrath upon criminals in a variety of different ways. Most severely, they would inflict madness and torment upon any person who killed their father or mother. A person who committed a murder might suffer from disease or illness. If a nation harbored this kind of criminal, that entire nation might suffer from disease and hunger thanks to the curse of the Furies.
The only way to placate the wrath of the Erinyes was by engaging in ritual purification and atoning for the crime. To atone, a criminal would have to complete some predetermined task.
In most classic literature, the Furies were very similar to, or the same as:
- The Poinai
- The Arai
- The Praxidikai
- The Maniai
The goddesses were traditionally depicted to be ugly women with wings. Their waists, arms, and hair were all entwined with poisonous snakes. Each of the sisters wielded a whip and wore either mourning clothes or hunting garb.
Most myths agree that the Furies sprang from the blood of Ouranos after Gaia, the mother of the earth, gave them life. Some sources claim that the Furies were the daughters of Persephone and Hades, although most people agree that though the Furies served these deities, they bore no relation to each other.
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