Harpies are one of my favourite mythical creatures, next to Sirens. Granted, the two are often mixed up, but there is something fascinating about hybrids, especially those with wings!
As this feature is about the portrayal of mythical creatures in media, at least in part, I did a little research. Most of my knowledge comes from Greek mythology, and though I’m familiar with some of the following interpretations, I was surprised at how many references there are. These are just a few:
- Harpies are featured a great deal in Anime and Manga. I don’t have enough knowledge to comment on these representations, but if you do – please share.
- Betty Ross was temporarily turned into a Harpy in The Incredible Hulk – the delightful Bruce Banner made a deal and found a cure.
- In Jason and the Argonauts (a particular favourite of mine), harpies torment the blind prophet Phineus, by stealing his food. There are only two of them, when traditionally they come in threes.
- They are portrayed as monsters in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe movie.
- In The Tempest, Ariel disguises herself as a harpy.
- Harpies appear in various table top and video games.
- They were frequently portrayed as monsters in The Adventures of Sinbad.
- They appeared in Charmed as minor demons.
- Hercules (The Legendary Journeys) and Xena (Warrior Princess) both include harpies.
- They are Hades‘ minions in Clash of the Titans (remake). In this interpretation they don’t appear as bird-women. They snatch people and drag them to the Underworld.
- Harpies feature in the epic Latin poem The Aeneid by Virgil.
- They are based in hell in Dante’s The Divine Comedy.
- In the Grey Hawk adventure novels (Book 5) – a harpy plays the female protagonist – a heroic one at that!
- Harpies are a kind of gate-keeper in Percy Jackson and the Olympians Series – maintaining curfew at Camp Half-Blood and eating those who break the rules!
- As with most of the mythical creatures I’ve dealt with so far, most interpretations are dark. In the 2007 TV Movie – Harpies, they are demonic winged monsters.
There is clearly a pattern, one I would like to see balanced out a little. What are your thoughts? Do you think harpies deserve their bad reputation, or should there be a touch of bitter and sweet when portraying these creatures? Let me know your thoughts.
Thanks for stopping by. Until next time.