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Harpies (mythology)

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A Harpy

A Harpy was a type of ravenous monster from Greek mythology that would attack people in order to steal their food, though they were not above kidnapping people as well - they were sometimes regarded as embodiments of the destructive nature of the wind and were considered spirits rather than true flesh and blood. Harpies were originally depicted as winged human females but over time became more associated with their current form as ugly bird-women hybrids, in most myths they retain their savage behavior regardless of form.

Role In Jason and the Argonauts

Phineas, a king of Thrace, had the gift of prophecy. Zeus, angry that Phineas revealed too much, punished him by blinding him and 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 of his food. 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 off the harpies, but without killing any of them, following 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.

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