Well keeping up a little better than I thought and since a few close friends have been harping on me I thought we would talk about Harpies. Just a little corny joke.
Starting in the Greek myth, or at least when they were first mentioned, they first seem to come about around the same time as the Gorgons and Furies. Perhaps it was an era in Greek Mythology for women to be the popular cursed beasts of legend.
In some tales they were not always as we know them today, almost seductive like the Sirens. Tales after Homer who described this way would see them as the hags that grew more popular in our culture and the myths in those times
Harpies were most mentioned as a nuisance rather than anything else. They stole food from the tables before people could eat them. They would foul the air with their stench and the level of uncleanliness (excrement smeared on parts of their bodies) was enough to ruin anyone’s dinner. Well, depending what was being served and how hungry you were.
With the head and most often the upper torso of a haggard woman they would fly around making horrendous noises to simply irritate. The bodies were described as a large bird of prey so maybe somewhere between a large hawk/eagle or condor could be in size range. In tales from the areas around Turkey they are depicted as possible much larger.
Tales fo the bird like women most often known as the Harpies carries throughout most of the old world. Even into New Zealand where they tell a tale of Kurangaituku. But the tale that gets me the most and brings on the most sinister side is how Hades used them
Hades used the Harpies as gatherers from the Underworld. They were sent into our world as they had the power to cross between the realm of our world and the spirit world. They would come up to steal souls after death hunting down what they can and snagging it from the Gods before the soul could reach peace. Maybe some of these souls were meant to return to the Underworld. Not all were innocent.
Imagine being that soul, alert, aware and ready to leave to bliss when some foul smelling Harpies come shrieking out of the shadows of between worlds. To collect you and drag you into the darkness forever. Or you can just think about the other tales of them sneaking into unlocked or broken windows at night to steal your newborn babies. The harpies liked doing that as well in some tales. Maybe the baby’s crying sounded like the cry of the Harpies. It just sort of summons them in.
Long life span but not immortal. Most tales state about the size of a large bird of prey but some say large enough to carry of an adult human. They have the ability to go between the spirit world and our world. The live in many ancient parts of the world and have been spotted in many lands. They are foul smelling and like to taunt diners and steal food, perhaps even more. They have a knack for leaving their own feces or excrement smeared over their bodies.
Thanks for Reading,
Joshua Crane Dowidat
Allan, T. (2008). The Mythic Bestiary. London: Duncan Baird Publishers
Images Retrieved from: