Harpies are mythical creatures from Greek mythology, often depicted as female winged beings with the faces of women and the bodies of birds. They are associated with storm winds and are generally considered to be spirits of sudden, swift, and tempestuous winds. Harpies are typically depicted with the upper bodies of women, often with a beautiful or seductive appearance, and the lower bodies of birds, including wings and talons.

Illustration of Harpies, winged spirits of torment, in flight

Physical characteristics

Upper Human Body: The upper portion of a Harpy’s body is typically depicted as that of a woman. This includes a human face, torso, and arms.

Lower Bird Body: The lower half of a Harpy’s body is that of a bird. This includes wings, feathers, and talons or claws.

Wings: Harpies are characterized by large, powerful wings that enable them to fly swiftly.

Wild and Disheveled Appearance: In some representations, Harpies are depicted with disheveled hair and a wild appearance, reflecting their untamed and chaotic nature.

Expression: The facial expressions of Harpies can vary, ranging from serene or beautiful to fierce and menacing.


Harpies are first mentioned in Greek mythology, with early references found in Hesiod’s “Theogony” and Homer’s “Odyssey.” These early sources describe the Harpies as winged spirits associated with storm winds.

According to Hesiod, the Harpies are the daughters of Thaumas (a sea god) and Electra (a sea nymph). This makes them siblings to Iris, the rainbow messenger, and the winged horses known as the Harpyiai.

While Harpies are not central figures in many myths, they play a notable role in the story of Phineas and the Argonauts. Phineas, a seer, was punished by Zeus, and the Harpies were sent to torment him by stealing or defiling his food. The Argonauts, led by Jason, intervened to help Phineas.

Portrait of a harpy

powers and abilities

Flight: Harpies possess large and powerful wings, enabling them to fly swiftly through the air.

Predatory Nature: Harpies are often depicted as predatory creatures, and their name, derived from the Greek word “harpuiai,” reflects their role as snatchers or robbers.

Storm Winds: While not explicitly stated as a supernatural power, Harpies are closely associated with storm winds. Their presence is sometimes considered a harbinger of storms or tempests.

Agents of Divine Punishment: In some myths, Harpies are sent by the gods as agents of punishment.

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