Wednesday, August 25, 2010
The Fiendish Harpies
Some images show beautiful faces and some horrifically ugly. Regardless, the all displayed a twisted sense of cruelty and no moral compass to speak of.
Regardless of their appearance, these were some nasty customers.
The story of Phineas
The most well know tale is that of Phineas, King of Thrace. Phineas had the gift of foresight, but Zeus (the lord of the Olympian gods) believed that Phineas revealed too much information. In punishment, Zeus blinded the man and put him on an island. The island held an incredible banquette of food that renewed itself each day.
That doesn’t sound all bad - vengeful god takes away one thing, but gives another, right? Umm... not quite. Every time Phineas tries to eat from the banquette, the harpies show up. They snatch the food right out of his hands before he ever has a chance to eat. In addition to such torture, the harpies then spoil the rest of the food as part of Phineas’ punishment.
This goes on for some time until the Greek hero Jason arrives on the island. Through his efforts, the harpies are run of to never bother Phineas again. In appreciation, Phineas uses his gifts warn Jason about the Symplegades, or clashing rocks, and how to pass them during the hero’s voyage.
This story shows not only the cruelty of the harpy, but from a fiction writing standpoint, we see the intricacy of one subplot impacting another in the grand scheme of things.
So, there you have it. The harpy - malevolence at its finest.