Mythology & Beliefs: Eumenides
In Greek and Roman Mythology, Eumenides was one of several Furies.
Eumenides in Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology
（*Eu)meni/des), also called ERINNYES, and by the Romans
FURIAE or DIRAE, were originally nothing but a
personification of curses pronounced upon a guilty criminal.
The name Erinnys, which is the more ancient one, was derived
by the Greeks from the ἐρίνω ορ ἐρευνάω, I hunt up or
persecute, or from the Arcadian word ἐρινύω, I am angry; so
that the Erinnyes were either the angry goddesses, or the
goddesses who hunt up or search after the criminal.
(Aeschyl. Eum. 499; Pind. O. 2.45; Cic. de Nat. Deor. 3.18.)
The name Eumenides, which signifies " the well-meaning," or
" soothed goddesses," is a mere euphemism, because people
dreaded to call these fearful goddesses by their real name,
and it was said to have been first given them after the
acquittal of Orestes by the court of the Areiopagus, when
the anger of the Erinnyes had become soothed. (Soph. Oed.
Col. 128; Schol. ad Oed. Col. 42; Suid. s. v. Εὐμενιδες.) It
was by a similar euphemism that at Athens the Erinnyes were
called σεμναἲ Δεαὶ, or the venerable goddesses. (Paus. 1.28
§ 6) Servius (Serv. ad Aen. 4.609) makes a distinction,
according to which they bore the name Dirae, when they were
conceived as being in heaven by the throne of Zeus, Furiae,
when conceived as being on earth, and Eumenides, as beings
of the lower world; but this seems to be a purely arbitrary
In the sense of curse or curses, the word Erinnys or
Erinnyes is often used in the Homeric poems (il. 9.454,
21.412, Od. 11.280), and Aeschylus (Choeph. 406) calls the
Eumenides Ἀραί that is, curses. According to the Homeric
notion, the Erinnyes, whom the poet conceives as distinct
beings, are reckoned among those who inhabit Erebos, srwhere
they rest until some curse pronounced upon a criminal calls
them to life and activity. (Il. ix 571, Od. 15.234.) The
crimes which they punish are disobedience towards parents,
violation of the respect due to old age, perjury, murder,
violation of the law of hospitality, and improper conduct
towards suppliants. (Hom. Il. 9.454, 15.204, 19.259, Od.
2.136, 17.475.) The notion which is the foundation of the
belief in the Eumenides seems to be, that a parent's curse
takes from him upon whom it is pronounced all peace of mind,
destroys the happiness of his family. and prevents his being
blessed with children. (Hdt. 4.149; Aeschyl. Eum. 835.) As
the Eumeenides not only punished crimes after death, but
during life on earth, they were conceived also as goddesses
of fate, who, together with Zeus and the Moerae or Parcae,
led such men as were doomed to suffer into misery and
misfortunes. (Hom. Il. 19.87, Od. 15.234.) In the same
capacity they also prevented man from obtaining too much
knowledge of the future. (Il. 19.418.) Homer does not
mention any particular names of the Erinnyes, nor does he
seem to know of any definite number. Hesiod, who is likewise
silent upon these points, calls the Erinyes the daughters of
Ge, who conceived them in the drops of blood that fell upon
her from the body of Uranus. (Theoy. 185; comp. Apollod.
1.1.4.) Epimenides called them the daughters of Cronos and
Euonyme, and sisters of the Moerae (Tzetz. ad Lycoph. 406;
Schol. ad Soph. Oed. Col. 42); Aeschylus (Aesch. Eum. 321)
calls them the daughters of Night; and Sophocles (Oed. Col.
40, 106) of Scotos (Darkness) and Ge. (Comp. some other
genealogies in Hygin. Fab. p. 1; Serv. ad Aen. 7.327; Orph.
Hymn. 69. 2.) The Greek tragedians, with whom, as in the
Eumenides of Aeschylus, the number of these goddesses is not
limited to a few (Dyer, in the Class. Museum, vol. i. pp.
281-298; comp. Eurip. Iphig. Taur. 970; Verg. A. 4.469), no
particular name of any one Erinnys is yet mentioned, but
they appear in the same capacity, land as the avengers of
the same crimes, as before. They are sometimes identified
with the Poenae, though their sphere of action is wider than
that of the Poenae. From their hunting up and persecuting
the cursed criminal, Aeschylus (Aesch. Eum. 231, Choeph.
1055) calls them κύνες or κυνγέτιδες. No prayer, no
sacrifice, and no tears can moove them, or protect the
object of their persecution (Aesch. Ag. 69, Eum. 384); and
when they fear lest the criminal should escape them, they
call in the assistance of Dicé, with whom they are closely
connected, the maintenance of strict justice being their
only object. (Aesch. Eum. 511, 786; Orph. Argon. 350; Plut.
de Eail. 11.) The Erinnyes were more ancient divinities than
the Olympian gods, and were therefore not under the rule of
Zeus, though they honoured and esteemed him (Eum. 918,
1002); and 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 twined in their hair, and blood dripping from their
eyes; Euripides and other later poets describe them as
winged beings. (Orest. 317, Iphig. Taur. 290; Verg. A.
12.848; Orph. Hymn. 68. 5.) The appearance they have in
Aeschylus was more or less retained by the poets of later
times; but they gradually assumed the character of goddesses
who punished crimes after death, and seldom appeared on
earth. On the stage, however, and in works of art, their
fearful appearrance was greatly softened down, for they were
represented as maidens of a grave and solemn mien, in the
richly adorned attire of huntresses, with a band of serpents
around their heads, and serpents or torches in their hands.
With later writers, though not always, the number of
Eumenides is limited to three, and their names are
Tisiphone, Alecto, and Megaera. (Orph. Hymn. 68; Tzetz. ad
Lycoph. 406; Verg. A. 12.845.) At Athens there were statues
of only two. (Schol. ad Oed. Col. 42.) The sacrifices which
were offered to them consisted of black sheep and nephalia,
i. e. a drink of honey mixed with water. (Schol. l.c.; Paus.
2.11.4; Aeschyl. Eum. 107.) Among the things sacred to them
we hear of white turtledoves, and the narcissus. (Aelian,
Ael. NA 10.33; Eustath. ad Hom. p. 87.) They were worshipped
at Athens, where they had a sanctuary and a grotto near the
Areiopagus : their statues, however, had nothing formidable
(Paus. 1.28.6), and a festival Eumenideia was there
celebrated in their honour. Another sanctuary, with a grove
which no one was allowed to enter, existed at Colonus.
(Soph. Oed. Col. 37.) Under the name of Μανίαι, they were
worshipped at Megalopolis. (Paus. 8.34.1.) They were also
worshipped on the Asopus and at Ceryneia. (Paus. 2.11.4,
7.25.4; comp. Böttiger, Furienmaske, Weimar, 1801; Hirt,
Mythol. Bilderb. p. 201, &c.) - A Dictionary of Greek and
Roman biography and mythology, William Smith, Ed.
Eumenides in Wikipedia
In Greek mythology the Erinıes (Ἐρινύες, pl. of Ἐρινύς,
Erinıs; literally "the angry ones") or Eumenídes (Εὐμενίδες,
pl. of Εὐμενίς; literally "the gracious ones" but also
translated as "Kind-hearted Ones" or "Kindly Ones") or Furies
or Dirae in Roman mythology were female chthonic deities of
vengeance or supernatural personifications of the anger of the
dead. A formulaic oath in the Iliad (iii.278ff; xix.260ff)
invokes them as "those who beneath the earth punish whosoever
has sworn a false oath". Burkert suggests they are "an
embodiment of the act of self-cursing contained in the
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