October 9th, 2009 by sabrina
The Erinyes (pronounced ee-RIN-ee-eez) are Greek Goddesses of vengeance. Later known as the Furies, there are generally thought to be three of them—Alekto (“the unceasing”), Megaira (“the grudging”), and Tisiphone (“the avenging”). While some sources say that they are daughters of Nyx, Goddess of night, most say that they were born of Gaia. When Kronos castrated his father Ouranos, drops of blood from the wound fell on to Gaia, and she became pregnant with the Erinyes. The sisters are depicted as wearing dark robes and having snakes in their hair, similar to a Gorgon. They live in the Underworld and receive the souls of the death after they have been judged. They purify the souls of good people and send them on their way into the Underworld, but the souls of evil people they cast into the Dungeon of the Damned, where they can torture the souls for eternity.
The Erinyes also act on the earth and were called on by those who had been wronged to come and take vengeance on murderers and oath-breakers. They could punish an individual by chasing him and driving him mad, and they could also punish a kingdom that harbored criminals by causing droughts and famine. The name Erinyes (singular Erinys) is derived from a Greek word meaning “I hunt up,” and they were also known as the Praxidikai (“exacters of justice”), the Poinai (“the retributions”), the Maniai (“the madnesses”), the Arai (“the curses”), the Dasplêtai (“the horrid ones”), the Aei Parthenous (“the eternal virgins”), and the Kynês Enkotoi (“the hounds of wrath”). Those who hoped to soothe them called them by euphemisms such as the Eumenides (“the kindly ones”), the Semnai (“the revered ones”), and the Meilikhioi (“the mild ones”).
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