Furies and Witches, at The Suppressed Histories Archive

Cross-posted from: Suppressed Histories Archive
Originally published: 02.08.18

Tisiphone is one of the Erinnyes (Furies) in ancient Greece, sister of Alecto and Megaera. Her purview was to punish murderers, including those who killed parents or siblings. But as Ovid tells the story (Metamorphosis 4), Tisiphone brings about murder at the behest of Juno/Hera. She drives king Athamas mad and causes him to kill his children. He sees his  wife Ino and their children as a lioness and her cubs, and smashes his son’s head on a rock. Ino grabs her daughter, runs away to the top of a cliff, and jumps into the sea.

This is the base story, which was resurrected in medieval Europe during the revival of Greek and Roman literature, and remythologized according to western European witch archetypes. Here is the first image that I came across, which had no visible connection to Greco-Roman mythology, since everyone is dressed in 15th century French garb. Tisiphone is no longer a goddess, but a witch holding two winged dragons (mischievous and adorable). She is shown causing Athamas to slay his family (wife as well as both children, thus diverging from the ancient story).

Athamas kills his family, 15th century

 

 

The full article is available at The Suppressed Histories Archive.

Suppressed Histories Archive : The Suppressed Histories Archives uncovers the realities of women’s lives, internationally and across time, asking questions about patriarchy and slavery, conquest and aboriginality. About mother-right, female spheres of power, indigenous philosophies of spirit– and the historical chemistry of their repression. Even more important, their role in resisting oppression. A global perspective on women’s history offers fresh and diverse conceptions of women’s power, as well as of men and gender borders. It overturns stereotypes of race and class, and the structures of domination that enforce them. It digs under the usual story of lords and rulers, looking for hidden strands, and reweaves knowledge from the divided fields of history, archaeology, linguistics and folk tradition. So we cast a wide arc, looking for patterns and gaps and contradictions which, where vested power interests are at stake, are trigger points for controversy. Some of the flashpoints are women’s power; neolithic female figurines; gender-egalitarian mother-right cultures; patriarchy; witch-hunts; “heresies” such as goddess veneration or shamans; and the rise and fall of empires, including the doctrines of supremacy and inferiority that prop up all systems of domination.

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