Harpies

Greek - Female monsters, part woman, part bird. Daughters of Typhon and Echidna, or Thaumas and Electra, or Phorcus and Gaea. Sisters of Iris, some say. Originally, there was one such being, Podarge, on whom it is said, Zeus (or Zephyrus) fathered the horses of Achilles known as Balios and Xanthos. Then Aello and Ocypete were added. Later stories had them as Aellopus, Calaeno, Ocythoe and Nicothoe. At first they were regarded as spirits of the air, later as foul monsters. Amongst other horrible deeds they harried Phineus, the blind Thracian king who had offended Zeus by the accuracy of his prophecies, befouling his food until they were chased off by the two winged members of Jason's crew, Calais and Zetes. Some say they were never seen again. On another occasion they harried Aeneas and his men when they landed on the Strophades Islands where the Harpies lived. On both occasions, the monsters were saved from destruction by the angry sailors by the intervention of Iris. They also carried off the daughters of Pandareus and gave them to the Furies as servants. They appear in the stories of Charlemagne where they harried Senapus, the blind king of Abyssinia, by snatching away or fouling his food so that he would have died of starvation if Astolpho had not arrived in time to drive them off and so save his life. In mediaeval times they could be depicted in various forms such as centaur-like beasts with wings, rather than as bird-women. In some references, identified as Harpies, Aellopus, Aellopus, Harpuai, Harpuai, Harpyiae, Harpyiae, Hounds of Zeus, Hounds of Zeus, Nicothoe, Nicothoe, Ocythoe or Ocythoe.

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