We’ve officially started!
Day Six of the A-to-Z Challenge in April 2017. Let’s do this.
This year there’s no linky list or form to fill out to sign up. It might be too late to join at this point (unless you were double posting), but you can always cheer/comment on participants (and find awesome bloggers) at the A-to-Z’s official blog.
Now I should warn, that I didn’t stick to the common sense rule of writing short, pithy posts. Mine are long and bloated, but I’m having fun with it. And if you wanna skim, that’s absolutely cool with me!
Sadly, at this point anyone who hasn’t joined will have to wait until next year. But, even if you’re not participating, do leave a comment down below with your blog so I can visit anyways. I’m thrilled to be making new friends. 🙂
As part of my Greek mythic figures, places, and things theme, my “F” post should be obvious. I’m doing the Furies.
Who are the Furies?
The well-known Furies, or Erinye (“the angry ones”), were three female spirits of vengeance and justice. It wasn’t until later that writers attributed names to them. There was Allecto, Tisiphone and Megaera, or the Endlessly Angry One, the Punishing One, and the Jealous One.
So yeah, the Furies meted out vengeance and justice. Mostly vengeance though. The justice part depended on if their victim managed to tune them out.
Depending on the location, they were also known more euphemistically as Eumenides (“Kindly”) or Semnai (“August”). Mostly because speaking their actual names was feared.
In some versions they’re daughters of Gaea, the Mother of Earth. They had sprang from the blood of Uranus’s torn loins (Zeus’s doing), and if we’re using that story, we can see where the theme of vengeance and justice-seeking begins right from the gate.
In other versions, the Furies are daughters of both Gaea and “Darkness”. Not sure what Darkness is… Maybe Erebus, primordial god of darkness. Let’s go with that, because these ladies call the Underworld their home.
What’s life like as a Fury?
When they’re not serving Hades and Persephone by tormenting the criminal souls down there, they’re up on Earth hunting the living, wrongdoing souls of the guilty.
But not in the way your mom nags you to pick up after yourself, and you feel super guilty. They probably reserved their strength for tougher guilts like the murder-y kind. Mostly the murder-y kind.
And at the top of their torture list were those who murdered their relatives. More specifically, they REALLY hated patricide and matricide. So mother-killers and father-killers were particularly screwed.
So you killed your father and/or mother and/or relatives?
Now what if you want to absolve your sin? How does a murderer get the Furies off his or her back? They need to perform some purifying rites and make the proper atonement. Otherwise the storm cloud that is the Furies will rain mental and emotional exhaustion on you.
And they weren’t as good looking as some paintings depict them. Like normal, if not super angry, human women.
Legend describes them as looking like old, foul-smelling hags, with black wings, and ink-black bodies with serpents coiled in their hair and entwining their waists. They carried poison in chalices and they could appear as a swarm of insects or, yes, storm clouds.
The Furies starred in their greatest roles in Aeschylus’s Oresteia trilogy, a tragedy depicting the events from the murder of King Agamemnon by his wife Clytemnestra.
Orestes was the son of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra. This event would lead to his avenging his father.
How this story started:
Agamemnon is planning to set off on the Trojan War, but he’ll need to sacrifice his daughter, Iphigenia, to appease the goddess Artemis whom Agamemnon offended. She won’t let his ships sail to Troy to go fight and bring back Helen, Clytemnestra’s sister and Agamemnon’s brother’s wife.
Clytemnestra’s reasons for killing Agamemnon on his return are because 1) he killed their daughter, and 2) he actually killed her beloved first husband and forced himself on her.
So with the help of her new lover, Agamemnon’s cousin, Clytemnestra murders Agamemnon.
Now a young Orestes and his sister, Electra escape and seek refuge in court at Athens. When he comes of age, seven years later, Orestes is convinced by Electra and the god Apollo to avenge his father’s death. So Orestes heads home for a bloody homecoming/reunion with mommy dearest and her new lover/king, Orestes’s uncle/Agamemnon’s cousin. (Hint: He kills them.)
Enter the Furies:
Now we know how crazy the Furies are about patricide and matricide, Orestes is hunted by these vengeful spirits. He’s allowed safe passage into one of Apollo’s shrines, but still the Furies cry out to the gods for blood. Finally the gods and the Furies come to a truce: a trial for Orestes.
Still following this crazy family drama? It’s not quite over.
So Athena organizes the trial.
There were an even number of judges and when the Furies plead their case that Orestes should be punished and Orestes plead his that he was only following Apollo’s orders, the judges are tied.
Athena casts the tie-breaking vote in Orestes’s favor, but to further appease the Furies, they’re given a new title, the Venerable Ones, and a fancy new ritual to be observed in their honor. (Oh, shiny ritual!)
MORAL: Be good. Cut the drama. Love (if not tolerate) your parents. Trust me, the Furies are not ladies you want stopping by for tea and biscuits.
My sources to help with this post were:
Resourceful sites! Please do check them out!