Also known as Aello, Aellopus, Arepyiai and Areyiai.
- Greek (culture)
- Flying (attribute)
- Humanoid (attribute)
- Deadly (behaviour)
They had the bodies of birds with hag like faces, drooping breasts, bear’s ears and clawed talons. They also had bat like wings and contaminated whatever they touched. They used to harass a blind seer called Phineus. The son of Boreas the North Wind banished these creatures under the island of Crete in order to help the seer. Harpies are personifications of the stormy winds. They are similar to but not the same as Sirens and Erinyes. The chief employer of these terrible beasts was the god Hades who sent them to bring all those struggling not to die to the gates of the Underworld. They also fought Greek heroes under the command of Hades.
In one story the creatures tormented King Phineus who had incurred the wrath of the god. In revenge the Harpies swooped down to steal every meal and piece of food set aside for the king and defecated in its place. Phineus grew weak and thin, soon to die of starvation but the Argonauts Zetes and Calais drove away the Harpies. In some variations of the story the Argonauts killed the beasts. These creatures also appear in the works of Virgil in the Aeneid and in Homer’s Odyssey.
Their name as Arepyiai and Areyiai comes from the terrible sounds that they used to make.
Some of the infamous Harpy include Aello, Celaeno, Ocypete and Podarge.
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