Valkyrie Bestiary

Doing Our Best to Care for the Fae

Harpies: Winged Gods or Demons?

June 30, 2081

Harpies have been called everything from evil child snatchers to seductive maidens. So what’s the real deal with harpies? Do they even exist?

Yes, they do.

Here’s what I know about them.

They stand about 2.5 meters tall on feathered legs that end in vicious talons. Their torsos are bare and show off a generous buxomness. They are graced with both wings and arms. Oddly, while their wings span nearly 3 meters, their arms are stubby, almost stunted looking.

And harpies are ugly. 

I know, I know, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and everything. But unlike beauty, ugliness is more than skin deep (how’s that for a bag of mixed metaphors?). With harpies, the ugliness radiates from angry, twisted souls.

It’s hard to say if their temperaments are more hag-like or more bird-like. Certainly, a predatory gleam lights their yellow eyes. But I have not observed any typical avian behaviors from them. 

Stories of harpies have been around since the time of the ancient Greeks. I suspect that like dryads, centaurs, gorgons, and other mythical beings, harpies were once more plentiful on Terra. Magic is in their arsenal of weapons, so perhaps they disappeared when magic waned from the world. I might even be so bold as to hypothesize that there is an entire world of harpies somewhere, and the few we have seen have come through cracks in the veil. 

Here’s what Virgil had to say about harpies in the Aeneid, some time in the first century BCE (taken from the John Dryden translation):

When from the mountain-tops, with a hideous cry,
And clattering wings, the hungry Harpies fly;
They snatch the meat, defiling all they find.
And, parting, leave a loathsome stench behind.

He also describes them as abominable, haggard, and insatiably hungry. Definitely not seductress material. But it’s easy to see why early civilizations might have thought these formidable beings were gods or demons. 

What is your experience with harpies? Are they nasty old crones or beautiful winged goddesses? 


Comments (5)

I have never met a harpy, but I have a grimoire from the renowned Aisling Abernathy with a recipe for curing twisted gut syndrome in horses. One of the ingredients is a feather from a harpy’s tail. Abernathy was the real deal. If she believed they exist, then so do I.
cchedgewitch (June 30, 2081)

I’d like to have that recipe.
Valkyrie367 (June 30, 2081)

Sending now.
cchedgewitch (June 30, 2081)

What a dumpster fire of human waste this blog is. There’s no such thing as a harpy and you know it. You should be ashamed of yourself for inciting fear.
PercivalPapa (July 1, 2081)

You know if you don’t like my blog, you could just scroll on past.
Valkyrie367 (July 1, 2081)