The Official Collection of Fantastical Creature Information--Updated Randomly

For all your fantastical creature needs! This is the beginning of my encyclopedia, and I'm collecting as much information as I can on various fantasy creatures. Most of my stuff can be found on wikipedia. However, no source is perfect, so the stuff that is my input is often italicized. Help me by sending me more information at Questkid13@gmail.com

Side Note: There have been concerns about my using Wikipedia because it is not a reliable resource. I am well aware of wikipedia's unreliable nature--but that's exactly why I use it. Fantasy creatures are available to all, and everyone should have a chance to add their "discoveries." This website is supposed to be a fun collection of fantastical creature information with fun images to go with. I am not a reliable source--I'm just a collector. Though at this point, I am flattered that people are concerned with the validity of my site. :)

!!!!This is NOT a forum. Comments are to be informative and generally helpful. Clean humor is acceptable, but NOT if it detracts from the entry. This site is to help people find out more about fantastical creatures!!!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Harpy

In Greek mythology, the Harpies ("snatchers", from Latin: Harpyia, Greek: Άρπυια, Harpuia, pl. Άρπυιαι, Harpuiai) were mainly winged death-spirits best known for constantly stealing all food from Phineas. The literal meaning of the word seems to be "that which grabs" as it comes from the ancient Greek word αρπάξ which means to grab.

Description
Though Hesiod (Theogony) calls them two "lovely-haired" creatures, Harpies as beautiful winged bird-women are a late development. Harpies are a humanoid avian mix, with the head of a human and the body of a vulture. Although they can be very beautiful if they put their minds to it, Harpies are typically filthy--in manners and in appearance. Their smell and sound is often terrible enough to keep sailors away from their roosts. As a whole, the species is viscious and cruel, torturing their prey to the point of insanity.

A warning to the adventurer: Do not ask a harpy over for dinner.

History
The Harpies were sisters of Iris, daughters of Typhon and Echidna.

Phineas, a king of Thrace, had the gift of prophecy. Zeus, angry that Phineas revealed too much, punished him by putting him on an island with a buffet of food which he could never eat. The Harpies always arrived and stole the food out of his hands right before he could satisfy his hunger, and befouled the remains. This continued until the arrival of Jason and the Argonauts.

The Boreads, sons of Boreas, the North Wind, who also could fly, succeeded in driving the Harpies without killing any of them, as a request from Iris, who promised that Phineas would not be bothered by the Harpies again, and "the dogs of great Zeus" returned to their "cave in Minoan Crete". Thankful for their help, Phineas told the Argonauts how to pass the Symplegades.


In this form they were agents of punishment who abducted people and tortured them on their way to Tartarus. They lived on Strophades. They were usually seen as the personifications of the destructive nature of wind. The Harpies in this tradition, now thought of as three sisters instead of the original two, were: Aello ("storm swift"), Celaeno ("the dark") — also known as Podarge ("fleet-foot") — and Ocypete ("the swift wing").


In the Middle Ages
Harpies remained vivid in the Middle Ages. In his Inferno, XIII, Dante envisages the tortured wood infested with harpies, where the suicides have their punishment in the second ring:

Here the repellent Harpies make their nests,
Who drove the Trojans from the Strophades
With dire announcements of the coming woe.
They have broad wings, a human neck and face,

Clawed feet and swollen, feathered bellies; they caw
Their lamentations in the eerie trees.

A special thanks to wikipedia and to Moros of Deviantart for this slightly stolen image.

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