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File:DnDHarpy 7686.jpg
Grimmer than these scarce any prodigy, nor any plague e'er rose at the wrath of the gods from the Stygian waves: a winged thing with maiden’s face, belly o'erflowing and most foul, a hooked hand, and face hunger-pale forever.
Virgil, The Aeneid, Book III, ll. 253-257.

Like centaurs, mermaids, Fauns and Satyrs, harpies are mythical creatures that take the form of Half Human Hybrids -- in this case, one half is a woman and the other half is a bird, usually a bird of prey. They originated in Greek Mythology, where they often took the job of punishing mortals for their misdeeds. This punishment frequently took the form of snatching away or befouling people's food, hence their name which comes from the Greek word for "snatcher." They also can be considered as Anthropomorphic Personifications of violent winds.

They can vary widely in appearance. Most of the time they are seen as ugly, but they were originally described as beautiful, and often are subject to the Gorgeous Gorgon effect. The ratio of human to bird can also vary from human-faced bird to Winged Humanoid. In many classical depictions, their arms are their wings. They often come in groups of three, and are often given the names of Aello, Celaeno, and Ocypete.

Related to the other mythological half-woman half-bird creature, the Enthralling Siren. Sirens and harpies are confused almost as much as sirens and mermaids, usually by giving harpies beautiful voices.

The real life animal, the harpy eagle, is named for them, and their tendency to be Always Chaotic Evil has led the word "harpy" to be used to describe any unpleasant woman.


Examples of Harping on About Harpies include:


Anime and Manga

  • Yubaba has one as a pet in Spirited Away.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh has the Harpie Lady cards, the signature monsters of Mai Valentine.
  • Humanoid Monster Bem has one as the monster of episode 4.
  • The Mass-produced Evangelions in The End of Evangelion have picked up the Fan Nickname of "harpies" because of their wings, monstrous appearance, and vulture-like behavior.
  • Harpus from Bakugan.
  • A (good-looking) harpy named Monet has recently appeared as an enemy in One Piece.

Card Games

Comic Books

  • The Incredible Hulk: The Leader turned Betty Ross into a Gamma powered Harpy once, and in World War Hulk's "Gamma Corps", the Hulk's old enemy the Clown was turned into the Griffin with Gamma technology, specifically based on Betty as the Harpy.

Film

Heraldry

  • The "Great Arms" of the Imperial City of Nuremberg originally depicted an eagle with a king's head; over the decades this was Flanderized into a harpy.

Literature

  • Celaeno first appears alongside her fellow harpies in The Aeneid, where she prophesies that before Aeneas and his men find their home, they will become so hungry that they will eat their tables.
  • The Black Jewels trilogy includes them as the new forms of dead women who were killed violently by men.
  • Dante's The Divine Comedy puts them in hell, specifically the area inhabited by people who have committed suicide.
  • A rare heroic (and gorgeous) harpy, Chewppa, is the lead female protagonist of Book 5 of Greyhawk Adventures novels.
  • While there's no evidence of the existence of actual harpies in the Harry Potter universe (the veela are the closest thing to them), there is a Quidditch team called the Holyhead Harpies, that's made up entirely of women.
  • In His Dark Materials, harpies guard the underworld.
  • The Last Unicorn includes the harpy Celaeno.
  • They make an appearance in a Dream Sequence in Last Exit To Brooklyn.
  • They appear in Ronja the Robbers Daughter, possibly with a different name.
  • The Secret of Platform 13 has them as the Island's Good Is Not Nice police force. Eventually, a team is dispatched to rescue the prince when the less nightmarish team of rescuers seem to be failing.
  • Peter David's Sir Apropos of Nothing has male harpies, called "harpers", mainly as an excuse for a "Harper's Bazaar" pun.
  • The Solomon Kane story "Wings in the Night" has them pop up in Africa. They're called akaanas, and they like to eat people, and are notable for being the only time that Solomon Kane has gone berserk.
  • Xanth harpies are ugly old hags who attack via curses. The One-Gender Race and Gorgeous Gorgon aspects of them are played with, in that there are a few rare male harpies who are the good-looking ones; this is explicitly (not that kind of explicit, they're not that kind of book...usually) contrasted with the goblins, which in Xanth are mostly ugly males with a few beautiful females.
    • Also it becomes clear in one of the novels that young female harpies are actually very pretty; it's not until they grow up that they become ugly.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, the harpy is the symbol of the fallen civilization of Old Ghis.
  • In the Percy Jackson and The Olympians series, harpies help keep curfew at Camp Half-Blood... by eating any camper stupid enough to break it.

Live Action TV

Myth and Legend

  • One of the obstacles faced by Jason and the Argonauts.

Tabletop Games

  • Harpies appear as a flying unit for Dark Elves and Hordes of Chaos in Warhammer. They are a One-Gender Race, winged female humanoid, group of scavengers and snatchers. The issue of beautiful vs ugly Harpies comes to a head since they are depicted as attractive but only from the belly up to the neck as a "parody of a woman's body".
  • Dungeons and Dragons Harpies are the ugly bird ladies with beautiful, enrapturing voices.
  • The Harpie Lady monsters from Yu-Gi-Oh!.

Theater

  • Ariel disguises himself as one in The Tempest to deliver a message.

Video Games

  • Most of the Castlevania games have harpies as an enemy.
  • God of War had these as easy to kill but annoying enemies. They are typically seen scavenging off corpses and their behavior implies that they are not sentient. Also, like most female monster in this game, they have exposed breasts, but not very nice ones.
  • Guild Wars has harpies as an enemy type.
  • Harpuia from Mega Man Zero is based on this. His name is derived from the ancient Greek word for Harpy.
  • Harpies appear as enemies in the Might and Magic games.
  • The Warcraft world has Harpies as enemies both in the RTS and the MMORPG.
  • Legend of Mana harpies are bird-women who cause naval disasters with their singing. In one sub-quest, you bring one of the harpies that you befriend on board a ship, whose Hot-Blooded captain practically orders her to sing, and It's Up to You to keep the boat from sinking by attacking the monsters that spawn as a result of said singing.
  • Harpies are some of the standard Mooks in Titan Quest.
  • A group of three harpy sisters are the first Mini Boss in Breath of Fire 2. They spend the second turn arguing and attacking each other and only attack Ryu (since they find him attractive...or something like that, it's hard to tell).
  • In King's Quest V Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder, Graham is abducted by harpies, and has to play on a harp to distract them from eating him.
  • Golden Sun has the Harpy, Virago and Harridan monsters. Amusingly enough, all three terms can refer to a spiteful, shrill woman.
  • Terraria has harpies (sometimes spelled 'Harpeys') as a relatively common enemy on the heights where sky islands usually form.

Web Comics

Web Original

  • One of the collectable pets in UniCreatures is a harpy, although they aren't evil due to being in an exaggerated Sugar Bowl.

Western Animation

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