To the ancient Greeks, the harpies were winged death spirits. They were best known for stealing food from Phineas, though harpies could also bring life – a Harpy was the mother of Achilles’ horses in the Iliad.

King Phineas was skilled in prophecy, but angered Zeus by revealing too much. As punishment, Zeus placed Phineas on an island and surrounded him with a buffet of food. The harpies stole the food from his hands, fouling what was left. The harpies continue torturing him until Jason and the Argonauts arrived to drive away the harpies.

Greek harpies were punishers, cruel and vicious. In this tradition, the harpies were three sisters – Aello, Celaeno, and Ocypete.

In northern Australia, a harpy myth persists. The “Satanicus Harpy”, aka Ms. Casey, hunts the people of the town on the three darkest nights of the month. His harpy has two forms, one a frail and elderly redheaded woman, and the other a half-devil, half-harpy.the name Ms. Casey comes from the name of a schoolteacher who lived in the town in question. This elderly redhaired woman taught high school, and seven students either died or disappeared under her care. Soon after, Ms. Casey disappeared as well. In the end, she and the harpy were intertwined into one story.

Courtesy Wikipedia.
Harpy in Ulisse Aldrovandi, Monstrorum Historia , Bologna, 1642. Courtesy Wikipedia.