Friday, February 26, 2016


Yesterday Micheal suggested I do a post similar to the one on the Graces for the Furies. In Greek mythology the Erinyes also known as Furies, were female chthonic deities of vengeance; they were sometimes referred to as "infernal goddesses." A formulaic oath in the Iliad invokes them as "those who beneath the earth punish whosoever has sworn a false oath." Burkert suggests they are "an embodiment of the act of self-cursing contained in the oath." They correspond to the Dirae in Roman mythology, and some suppose that they are called Furies in hell, Harpies on earth, and Dirae in heaven.

According to Hesiod's Theogony, when the Titan Cronus castrated his father Uranus and threw his genitalia into the sea, the Erinyes as well as the Meliae emerged from the drops of blood when it fell on the earth (Gaia), while Aphrodite was born from the crests of sea foam. According to variant accounts, they emerged from an even more primordial level—from Nyx, "Night", or from a union between air and Mother Earth. Their number is usually left indeterminate. Virgil, probably working from an Alexandrian source, recognized three: Alecto or Alekto ("unceasing"), Megaera ("grudging"), and Tisiphone or Tilphousia ("vengeful destruction"), all of whom appear in the Aeneid. Dante followed Virgil in depicting the same three-character triptych of Erinyes; in Canto IX of the Inferno they confront the poets at the gates of the city of Dis. Whilst the Erinyes were usually described as three maiden goddesses, the Erinys Telphousia was usually a by-name for the wrathful goddess Demeter, who was worshipped under the title of Erinys in the Arkadian town of Thelpousa.

If the Furies of ancient mythology were Unceasing, Grudging, and Vengeful Destruction, then maybe the male version of the Furies should be Relentless (Unceasing), Back-Biting (Grudging), and Evil Queen (Vengeful Destruction).  The actual number of the Furies is not known. It was more than one, but the number could have been infinite. It sometimes seems that the evil of this world and the vengeance is infinite so I think there was an infinite number of Furies, not just the three of Virgil and Dante.

Of course, this post is all in jest, just as yesterdays was.  The Furies or Erinyes were women and as far as I know, there were no male equivalent. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, but then the same could be true of gay men. The picture above is of a single winged man surrounded by a murder of crows, it seemed appropriate for the male Furies. Of course, don't forget that the furies could also come from heaven (Dirae), and thus relentlessness, remembering when we've been treated badly (holding a grudge), and exposing hypocrisy (i.e. vengeful destruction) can be good things.

So here is a challenge for you: My three male Furies (homosexual? probably) were Relentless, Back-Biting, and an Evil Queen, what would you name the three gay Furies?


Michael Dodd said...

Thanks for taking up the challenge. I don't think I can improve on your suggestions.

In classical moral theory, virtue stands in the middle between the extremes of excess and defect. May we find the balance that frees us from bondage to the furies within ourselves while lending us the strength to do battle with the evil within and without.

mess said...

I found both posts extremely interesting and loved the way you presented them.....thanks!