The myth of Phineas and Harpies

phineas-and-the-harpiesPhineas was tortured by the Harpies who were stealing his food,  but he knew, with his divination skills, that he would be freed from them when the Argonauts will arrive in his country.

Indeed, the Argonauts arrived there, wanting to learn about the road to Colchis, but they found him old, in a miserable state, malnourished and unable to die, since he had “earned” long life.

Phineas promised the Argonauts that he would show them their course and ways to avoid danger, though they, in turn, pledged to free him from the Harpies. And the Argonauts organized the following plan to attract the winged monsters:

They set Phineas a rich table, and they suddenly rushed over with a great noise and seized the food. As soon as the winged sons of Boreades and the nymph Oreithyia, Zetis and Calais, brothers of Phineus’ wife, Cleopatra, saw them, they drew their swords and chased them through the air.

There was an oracle that the Harpies would die from the Boreades and they would die if they did not reach them. For the development of the story there are two versions, in one, the Harpies die, in the other they survive but they hide.

According to Apollodorus, as the Boreades were chasing them, one fell into the Peloponnese, in the Tigris River, which was renamed by her to Arpy or Arpyia. The other left towards the Propontis, and then came as far as the Floating Islands, west of the Peloponnese, or near Zakynthos, or the Sicilian sea, which were renamed Strophades, Islands of Return, because, as soon as the Harpy arrived there, it turned back and fell near on shore from exhaustion with her pursuer.

It is also said that the Boreades chased them as far as Kefallinia and at the top of Mount Ainos, where Zeus was worshiped with the epithet Ainiios, they begged him to help them catch the Harpies.He helped them by encouraging them and renewing the strength in their legs.

According to Apollonius Rhodius, the Boreades pursued them as far as the Floating Islands, reached them but did not disturb them. Because Iris, the sister of the Harpies, or Hermes, came before them, preventing them from killing creatures who served Zeus.

So they swore not to disturb Phineas again and hid in a cave in Crete, on Mount Diktis. Iris returned to the sky and the Boreas turned back to meet the Argonauts again; from their movement they renamed the islands from the Floating to the Strophades.

Others transfer the story of the rescue of the Harpies to the Sicilian sea and convey that it was their father himself who stopped the Boreades, the Typhoon