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Ἐρινύες Erinyes (Furies)

By Levi Clancy for Student Reader on

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An aura of dread surrounded them, later famously displayed in Aeschylus' Eumenides, the third play in his tragic trilogy the Oresteia, where the Furies were pursuing the mother-murderer Orestes. They appeared on stage as disgusting, loathsome creatures, repulsively dressed in black, wreathed in snakes, crawling on all fours to scent their prey, whining and howling like dogs. So terrifying were they, that at the first performance of the play (458 BC) women in the audience reputedly fainted and suffered miscarriages. At the end of the trilogy, Orestes was acquitted and the Furies were granted honourable worship at Athens, with the new and euphemistic name Eumenides, 'Kindly Ones', to help neutralize their dark powers. March 2008, p 27