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Furies: The Phenomenal Representation of Guilt

ByLaura Liva

The Furies, also called Erinyes or Eumenides, are ancient Greek gods, γραῖαι δαίμονες (old divinities),1 who belong to the second generation of pre-Olympic gods. There are three Furies (although sometimes they are referred to as a single figure): Tisiphone (the avenger of murder), Megaera (the jealous one), and Alecto (unceasing in anger). They are often portrayed as monsters, with hair of snakes, with black skin and gray clothes. Despite their monstrous appearance, they have the specific task of ensuring the demands of justice, and their very name, Erinyes, means spirit of anger and revenge. According to Hesiod’s Theogony,2 the Furies were born from the mother earth, Gaea, fertilized by the drops of blood shed by Uranus after he was castrated by his son Cronus, a mutilation that triggered a series of punishments and acts of revenge.