In Greek mythology the Erinyes literally "the avengers" were female chthonic deities of vengeance; they were sometimes referred to as "infernal goddesses".
A formulaic oath in the Iliad invokes them as "those who beneath the earth punish whosoever has sworn a false oath".
They correspond to the Furies or Dirae in Roman mythology.
According to Hesiod's Theogony, when the Titan Cronus castrated his father Uranus and threw his genitalia into the sea, the Erinyes as well as the Meliae emerged from the drops of blood when it fell on the earth (Gaia),while Aphrodite was born from the crests of sea foam.
According to variant accounts,they emerged from an even more primordial levelfrom Nyx, "Night", or from a union between air and mother earth.
Their number is usually left indeterminate.
Virgil, probably working from an Alexandrian source, recognized three: Alecto ("unnameable"), Megaera ("grudging"), and Tisiphone ("vengeful destruction"), all of whom appear in the Aeneid.
Dante followed Virgil in depicting the same three-character triptych of Erinyes; in Canto IX of the Inferno they confront the poets at the gates of the city of Dis.
(taken from Wikipedia en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erinyes)
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