Study Guide

Jason and the Golden Fleece Harpies

Harpies

These creatures were half-birds/half-women who were thought of as wind spirits. Zeus was said to send them to Earth to snatch things away people when it suited his purpose. The name Harpies actually comes from the Greek word for “snatch” or “grab.” In the myth of the Golden Fleece, they certainly earn their name as they incessantly snatch up King Phineus's food anytime he tries to eat. Their reputation for nastiness gets even nastier when we hear that they also took spiteful little poops on whatever scraps were left on the table. In the Harpies' defense, they were told to do all this by Zeus so as to punish Phineus, a skilled prophet who revealed too much of the future to mankind. Phineus is rescued from the bird women when the Boreads chase them away for good.