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In Greek mythology, Harpies ("robbers") were first beautiful winged women, daughters of Electra and Thaumas. Later, they were winged hags with sharp bird-talons. They abducted people and tortured them on their way to Tartarus. They were vicious, cruel and violent. They live on Strophades. They are usually seen as the personifications of the destructive nature of wind. The three harpies were: Aello ("storm swift"), Celaeno ("the dark"), also known as Podarge ("fleet-foot"), and Ocypete ("the swift wing").

Phineas was a King of Thrace, son of Agenor who had the gift of prophesy. Zeus, angry that Phineas revealed too much of the plans of the gods, punished him by setting him on an island with a buffet of food. He could eat none of it, however, because the harpies stole the food out of his hands right before he could eat. This continued until the arrival of Jason and the Argonauts. They sent the winged heroes, the Boreads after the harpies. They succeeded in driving the monsters away but did not kill them, as a request from the goddess of the rainbow, Iris, who promised that Phineas would not be bothered by the harpies again. As thanks, Phineas told the Argonauts how to pass the Sympleglades.

Ovid XIII, 710; Virgil III, 211, 245.