Tuesday, June 5, 2007

The Erinyes

Curses were probably originally spoken, the Erinyes' curse of the matricide, Orestes, in Aeschylus' "The Orestian Trilogy" is an example of how a verbal curse may have been constructed. It would be repeated over and over.

Now, by the altar,
Over the victim
Ripe for our ritual,
Sing this enchantment:
A song without music,
A sword in the senses,
A storm in the heart
And a fire in the brain;
A clamor of Furies
To paralyze reason,
A tune full of terror,
A drought for the soul!

If you want to find out more about the Erinyes (the Roman Furies), female chthonic goddesses who avenged blood guilt, check out Sarah Iles Johnston's book "Restless Dead: Encounters Between the Living and the Dead in Ancient Greece" (University of California Press, 1999).

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