Harpies

ABC043

Harpies

Region of origin: Greece

The harpies or harpyiai were half-women, half-bird creatures thought to be the personification of strong winds. They became associated with the underworld and meting out punishments, sent at the bidding of Zeus to attack or harangue people who had somehow offended the god, or people who had disappeared suddenly were thought to have been carried away by harpies to face the Erinyes. Earlier depictions described the harpies as beautiful maidens but over time their reputation worsened and they were increasingly described as ugly, vulturous beings. In Dante’s Inferno, the harpies made their home in a tree in the seventh ring of Hell and tormented the souls who resided there.

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