The term is often used metaphorically to refer to a nasty or annoying woman. In Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, Benedick spots the sharp-tongued Beatrice approaching and exclaims to the Prince, Don Pedro, that he would do an assortment of arduous tasks for him “rather than hold three words conference with this harpy!”
In Greek mythology, a harpy was one of the winged spirit beasts known for constantly stealing all food from Phineus.
In the 1963 film “Jason and the Argonauts”, the blind soothsayer Phineas is tormented by two Harpies sent by Zeus to punish him for misusing his gift of prophecy; these winged females would steal Phineas’ food leaving him only noisome scraps.
In his Inferno, XIII, Dante envisages the tortured wood infested with harpies, where the suicides have their punishment in the seventh ring of Hell:
Here the repellent harpies make their nests,
Who drove the Trojans from the Strophades
With dire announcements of the coming woe.
They have broad wings, a human neck and face,
Clawed feet and swollen, feathered bellies; they caw
Their lamentations in the eerie trees.
Truly, woe is a soul tormented by Harpies in any form. If the shoe fits, wear it!!
Defend yourself against harpies and take comfort in a few gems from Pope John XXIII;
- “We are not on earth as museum keepers, but to cultivate a flourishing garden of life and to prepare a glorious future.”
- “Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do.”
- “If God created shadows it was to better emphasize the light.”
- “A peaceful man does more good than a learned one.”
..and from Bernard Baruch;
- “Those who matter don’t mind, and those who mind don’t matter.”
- “Every man has a right to his own opinion, but no man has a right to be wrong in his facts.”