Greek Goddesses for Kids - The Furies aka the
Greek Goddesses and Nymphs - The Furies aka the
the goddesses of Vengeance & Retribution
Discover fascinating information about the
avenging deities, referred
to as Furies, were the goddesses of Vengeance
three sisters of
Hades the Underworld who inflicted
tortures and punishments on behalf of Hades,
god of the Underworld.
They were also known as the Three Erinyes or
Eumenides. According to Ancient Greek mythology
they were the daughters of
the earth goddess
and described as hideous snake-haired monsters
who pursued unpunished criminals.
This article provides facts
and information about the Furies.
Additional facts &
information about the mythology of Greek goddesses can be accessed via the following
Definition of the Furies (Erinyes)
Who were the Furies of Ancient mythology? The meaning and definition of
Furies are as follows: Definition of
Furies: The Furies were
and Retribution also referred to as the
“infernal goddesses”. According to
Greek Mythology they were the daughters of
the ancient dark goddess.
were described as horrible winged women,
often draped in black, with
serpent hair and eyes that dripped with
blood. The Furies personified conscience and
punished crimes. The Furies or Dirae
(meaning the 'Dread Ones') typically had the
effect of driving their victims insane,
hence their Latin name “Furor”. The Furies
was the collective name
given to these terrifying goddesses in Roman mythology
and corresponded to the
Erinyes in Greek Mythology.
The names of the Furies were Megaera,
Tisiphone and Alecto.
of the Furies: Megaera, Tisiphone and Alecto
The Furies, the three infernal goddesses of vengeance
and retribution personified conscience and
punished crimes and each also had specific
traits that they were associated with:
was described as the 'jealous one'
was described as the 'blood avenger'
was described as 'unceasing in pursuit'
(Erinyes) were virgin goddesses, but they
were not beautiful or innocent like other
goddesses. Their appearance was frightful,
they were horribly ugly, hideous,
merciless, full of blood lust and madness.
They carried a whip of vipers. The writer
Ovid, in Metamorphoses, describes the Furies
wearing "a robe all red with dripping gore
and wound a snake about her waist". The
snakes that were entwined in her hair were
described as "The snakes, dislodged, gave
hissing sounds; some crawled upon her
shoulders; some, gliding round her bosom,
vomited a slime of venom, flickering their
tongues and hissing horribly."
Furies (Erinyes) and Hades
not surprisingly, were terrified of
god of the Underworld, and believed
it brought bad fortune to even mention the
god by name. He was referred to as 'Prince of Darkness'
or Aidoneus meaning the “Unseen One” for fear
of attracting his attention. The same
applied to the Furies and the many who
feared to speak their name called them by
euphemisms such as Eumenides meaning the
“Kind Ones”. The main responsibility of
was to ensure that the punishments of the dead
decreed by the gods were carried out.
However, such tortures and punishments were
usually inflicted by the Furies (Erinyes). Nemesis, the goddess of vengeance and
punishment was ascribed the responsibility
of keeping the Furies in check.
"They [the Furies] sat a-kembing foul black
snakes from off their filthy hair before the
the place where caitiffs punished were"
Note1: A Caitiff was a despicable, wicked
and cowardly prisoner.
Note 2: Kemb means to comb
Role of the
The Furies were thought to dwell in
Tartarus, a dark abyss, below the
Underground - the equivalent of Hell. Their
role was to apply their tortures to the
damned souls there. The Furies acted as
agents of the Fates
(Moirai), exacting the punishments
decreed by the gods and were also associated
Keres, the 'Death
Spirits'. When called upon to act,
the Furies ascended to earth to pursue the wicked
and unpunished criminals. The Furies were
unceasing in pursuit,
and hounded their victims until they died in
a "furor" of madness or torment.
of Three Furies (Erinyes):
Megaera, Tisiphone and Alecto
Furies' by Aeschylus
In classical literature Aeschylus (525–456
B.C.) describes their role in his work 'The
"Of Justice are we ministers, and
whosoe'er of men may stand lifting a pure
unsullied hand, that man no doom of ours
incurs, and walks thro' all his mortal path
untouched by woe, unharmed by wrath. But if,
as yonder man, he hath blood on the hands he
strives to hide, we stand avengers at his
side, decreeing, thou hast wronged the dead:
we are doom's witnesses to thee. The price
of blood his hands have shed, we wring from
him: in life, in death, hard at his side are
In response to a question from Athena the
the chorus of Furies answers:
are the children of eternal Night, and
Furies in the underworld are called...
We chase from home the murderers of men"
The Furies Part II)
Powers of the Furies (Erinyes)
The Furies possessed all the supernatural
Powers of the Greek Gods including
immortality, superhuman strength, stamina,
vitality, and resistance to injury. They
also had the power of flight and
Ovid, in Metamorphoses describes poisons
with magic power:.
"Tisiphone brought with her poisons too of
magic power: lip-froth of Cerberus, the
Echidna’s venom, wild deliriums, blindnesses
of the brain, and crime and tears, and
maddened lust for murder; all ground up,
mixed with fresh blood, boiled in a pan of
bronze, and stirred with a green hemlock
- The Three Furies
- Images and
Pictures of the Furies
- Greek mythology and legends
resource for schools, kids and children
- Facts and
information about the ancient Greek goddesses called
the Furies, also called the Erinyes, for schools and kids
- The Three Furies
Furies (Erinyes) - Matricide and Patricide
The Furies were especially vigilant of
crimes that were committed within a family,
of which matricide and patricide were viewed
as the most heinous of crimes. Matricide is
the murder of a mother and patricide is the
murder of a father. In Ancient Greece and
Rome such crimes were expected to be avenged
by the children of murdered parents.
The Furies would haunt a son who had failed
to avenge a parent who had been killed
unjustly. The Furies were relentless and
hounded their victim until he made
retribution on the death of his parents.
Mythology of the
Furies (Erinyes) - The Harpies
is myth that tells of the Harpies and the
Furies. King Pandareos stole a golden dog
from the shrine of Zeus and was punished by
the gods, as were his daughters. The Harpies
were terrible creatures with the head of
woman and the body of a vulture. The Harpies
were perpetually devoured by the pangs of
insatiable hunger, which caused them to
torment their victims by robbing them of
their food. The Harpies had the power rapid
flight that far surpassed that of the winds.
The Harpies took away the daughters of King Pandareos to
act as slaves to the Furies (Erinyes).
Mythology of the
Furies (Erinyes) - Orestes
The Furies feature in the
Myth of Orestes and Agamemnon in which
they appear as the agents of revenge for
Clytemnestra, the mother of Orestes. Orestes
had killed Clytemnestra to avenge the murder
of his father, Agamemnon. The goddess Athena
absolved Orestes of guilt in the murder of
his mother, and in order to appease the
Furies (Erinyes) she gave the Furies a
grotto at Athens where they received
sacrifices and libations where they became
euphemistically known as the Eumenides (the
Furies (Erinyes) - The Eumenideia
The Eumenideia was an annual festival in
honor of the Eumenides (euphemism for
the Erinyes) which was held in Athens.
The Mystai (priests) made the
preliminary sacrifices to the Eumenides
of cakes and libations of water and
milk. A libation was a ritual pouring of
a liquid as an offering to the gods. The
aim of their rite was to placate dead
souls. Animal sacrifices were then made
at the Eumenideia in the form of black
sheep which were burnt in a night
ceremony. Wine was poured onto the
animal as part of its ritual slaughter
and preparation, and then afterwards
onto the ash and flames. The Eumenideia
was an important festival and due to the
nature of the goddesses only free-born
citizens of known virtue and integrity
were admitted as the only acceptable
attendees. The symbols of the Eumenides
were turtle doves and the narcissus.
Invocations to the
The Furies brought terror but also a sense
of justice to mortals. According to the traditions and
beliefs of the Ancient Greeks, people would
invoke the aid of the Furies to gain
justice, retribution and revenge for wicked
acts that had gone unpunished. These
invocations took the form of a prayer for
retribution from the 'infernal goddesses'.
An example of an invocation to the Furies:
"I plead to thee, oh Furies, avenge these
heinous deeds. Descend with wings of razors,
grant me the vengeance that I seek. I beg
for retribution. Let the rivers all run red,
punish those who swear false oaths and allow
me my revenge."
Furies Family tree & Genealogy
Nyx, the dark goddess of darkness, was the
mother of many of the Gods of death and
darkness. Some were the result of her union
Erebus, another important god of the
The family members and genealogy of the
Furies are detailed in the following family
tree, providing an overview of the
relationships between the Furies and some of the principle
Greek gods and goddesses of the Underworld.
In ancient Greek mythology the Furies (Erinyes)
associated with the Maniae, evil spirits
personifying Insanity, madness and crazed
frenzy and Insania or Mania, the
goddess of insanity. They were also
companions of their sister Lyssa, the
goddess of mad rage and frenzy.