They were three goddesses of vengeance and retribution, who punished men for crimes against the natural order. They were particularly concerned with homicide, unfilial conduct, offenses against the gods, and perjury.

Residence: The Underworld
Symbols: Viper and screech owl
Parents: Gaia
Roman equivalent: Furiae

The Remorse of Orestes, painting by William-Adolphe Bouguereau, 1862.

A victim seeking justice could call down the curse of the Fury upon the criminal. The most powerful of these was the curse of the parent upon the child; for the Furies were born of just such a crime, being sprung from the blood of Uranus, when he was castrated by his son Cronus.

The wrath of the Furies 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 dearth, and with it hunger and disease. The wrath of the Furies could only be placated with the rite of ritual purification and the completion of some task assigned for atonement.

Detail of an Apulian red-figure vase, c. 330 BC, depicting Apollo summoning a Fury to drive King Lycurgus mad. Antikensammlungen, Munich. (c) theoi.com
Detail of a Lucanian red-figure nestoris, c. 380 BC, depicting Orestes and the Furies. Naples National Archaeological Museum. (c) theoi.com
Clytemnestra tries to awaken the sleeping Furies. Detail from an Apulian red-figure bell-krater, c. 380–370 BC.

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