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The Erinyes were three female goddesses, seeking vengeance against anyone who had sworn a false oath or had done an evil act.
See the fact file below for more information on the Erinyes or alternatively, you can download our 19-page The Erinyes worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- ERINNYES, also called EUME′NIDES (Eumenides), and by the Romans FURIAE or DIRAE, were the personification of curses upon a guilty criminal.
- It was derived by the Greeks from the erinô or ereunaô, “I hunt up or persecute”, or from the Arcadian word erinuô, “I am angry.”
- The Erinnyes were either the angry goddesses, or the goddesses who hunt down or search for the criminal.
- Epimenides called them the daughters of Cronus and Euonyme, and sisters of the Moerae.
- Aeschylus called them the daughters of Night; and Sophocles of Scotos (Darkness) and Ge.
APPEARANCE AND ROLES
- The Erinyes were more ancient divinities than the Olympian gods, and were not under the rule of Zeus, though they honoured and esteemed him.
- They dwelt in the deep darkness of Tartarus, dreaded by gods and men.
- Their appearance is described by Aeschylus as Gorgo-like, their bodies covered with black serpents entwined in their hair, and blood dripping from their eyes.
- Euripides and other later poets described them as winged beings.
- Gradually, they assumed the character of goddesses who punished crimes after death, and seldom appeared on earth.
- The number of Eumenides was three, and their names were Tisiphone, Alecto, and Megaera.
- In Athens, there were statues of only two.
- The sacrifices which were offered to them consisted of black sheep and nephalia, i.e. a drink of honey mixed with water.
- Eumenides not only punished crimes after death, but during life on earth. They were conceived also as goddesses of fate.
- They were worshipped in Athens, where they had a sanctuary and a grotto near the Areopagus.
- Under the name of Maniai, they were worshipped at Megalopolis.
WARDENS OF THE DAMNED
- The Erinyes were goddesses who punished the impious and criminal.
- They were particularly concerned with the crimes which most offended the gods – patricide, matricide, betrayal of parents and family, murder, manslaughter, the breaking of oaths, and crimes against the gods themselves.
- The three most famous victims of this Erinys-curse were Orestes for the slaying of his duplicitous mother, Oidipous (Oedipus) for an unintentional patricide, and Alkmaion (Alcmaeon) for the crime of matricide.
- The Furies served both Persephone and Hades in the underworld. They oversee the torture that was done to criminals who had been placed in the Dungeons of the Damned.
- In most classic literature, the Furies were very similar to, or the same as: The Poinai, The Arai, The Praxidike, and The Maniai.
- When the dead arrive in Hades, they appear before the three Judges, and are then handed over to the Erinyes, who purified the good of their sins and let them pass.
- Those adjudged to be wicked were dragged off to the Tartarean dungeon of the damned.
DO NO EVIL
- To appease the Erinyes, the murderer or killer had to undergo the rites of ritual purification and perform some act of atonement.
- The Erinyes were also described as the source of signs of ill-omen, particularly those appearing on the unlucky fifth day of the month, the appearance of an accursed screech-owl, and signs surrounding a sacrificial offering.
- The wrath of the Erinyes manifested itself in a number of ways. The most severe of these was the tormenting madness inflicted upon a patricide or matricide.
- Murderers might suffer illness or disease; and a nation harbouring such a criminal could suffer death, and with it hunger and disease thanks to the curse of the Furies.
- The Harpyiai (Harpies) were tormenting spirits closely associated with the Erinyes.
- In the story of Phineus, Zeus sends an Erinys to rob the king of his sight and the Harpyiai to plague his days.
- Their sacred bird was the screech owl, a nocturnal bird of ill-omen.
- The animal of the Erinyes was the viper – a chthonic beast associated with the underworld, death, and suffering.
The Erinyes Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the Erinyes across 19 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use The Erinyes worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Erinyes which were three female goddesses, seeking vengeance against anyone who had sworn a false oath or had done an evil act.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Vengeful Goddesses
- Crimes and Punishments
- Modern Laws
- Symbols of Justice
- The Brighter Side
- Trio Justice
- Quotes of Justice
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Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.