When you think of Halloween monsters, furies probably aren’t the first things that come to mind. But if you were around in the time of the Greek or Roman Empires, these infernal goddesses were so frightening that most people refused to refer to them by name, lest they risk the wrath of these terrifying creatures. Pretty scary, right?
The furies, also known as the Erinyes, were considered chthonic deities, or goddesses of the underworld. Stories of their origins vary, but many believe they were either born from the blood of Uranus or from a union between Gaia (Earth) and Nyx (Night). The furies show up throughout literature including in the writings of Sophicles as well as in Dante’s Inferno.
There were three furies, vengeful sisters who would hear the plights of mortals and respond to complaints of insolence and oath breaking. Alecto was known for her endless anger, Tisiphone for her destruction of murderers, and Megaera was known for her jealous rage. The three sisters would punish the wicked by hounding and torturing culprits. They would torment the accused mercilessly, usually until the person was driven mad. Unfortunate news if you’re a bad guy.
Descriptions of the furies vary, but most accounts agree that they were hideous to behold. They had coal-black skin, bat wings, claws, and some even claimed they had serpents for hair. Sometimes they were described as old crones wielding weapons and chalices filled with poison. The furies could also disguise themselves as swarms of insects or even as storm clouds.
But there was another side to the three sisters. When not punishing criminals, they would transform into the Eumenides (or Semnai), honorable protectors of justice and guardians of the innocent. In this form, they were sometimes associated with the three Graces, beautiful goddess sisters representing charm and goodness.
So, remember to play nice this Halloween. Or the furies might get you…
Morgan is a moderately insane human who allowed her sister-in-law to yank her into the world of blogging, now spending much of her free time pecking out blog posts on books, travel, writing, and DIY projects. In the limited wisps of remaining free time, Morgan enjoys music, drawing, sewing, sculpting, and writing, currently working on her first novel with hopes of querying in the near future. In her “adult” life, Morgan works as a pharmacist and is married to Melanie’s crazy brother.