3 Furies

Megaera * Tisiphone * Alecto

The furies (Erinyes) were also known in Athens by the cautious euphemism of the Eumenides—‘the kindly ones’—and were worshipped in a cave below the Parthenon. Megaera the jealous, Tisiphone the blood avenger and Alecto the unceasing were elemental figures of human power—the relentless winged spirits of Conscience, Punishment and Retribution hunting down the guilty.

Later traditions identified them as the daughters of Gaia, inseminated when the bloody testicles of the ancient god Uranus, who was castrated by his son Cronus, fell to the earth. They are sometimes depicted like a winged spirit of victory, sometimes like a Medusa figure dripping with gore and a scalp sprouting a mane of thrashing serpents.

Excerpted from: Rogerson, Barnaby. Rogerson’s Book of Numbers: The Culture of Numbers–from 1,001 Nights to the Seven Wonders of the World. New York: Picador, 2013.

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