I read The Oresteia for a class, and while there were a lot of things that lingered about the play, what really left an impression was the Erinyes, or the Furies.
What’s not to like about three snake-haired women who pursue those who spill family blood into madness? And like, I get that Agamemnon is a big war hero and by Greek standards he’s pretty great, but by modern standards he’s a jerk and uh, hello, also killed his daughter. Not to mention the cheating double-standard and the fact that he brings his war prize, Cassandra, home like some kind of fancy goblet to show off to his wife.
Only his wife kills him. And then her children get revenge. And then the Erinyes come for the son, Orestes, for spilling his mother’s blood, only Athena intervenes and turns the Furies into the Kindly Ones with a bunch of goddess of wisdom trickery and a thinly-veiled threat of god-killing lightning bolts.
Blood for blood may not be the best solution to a problem, and three vengeful goddesses with snakes in their hair maybe aren’t the best representation of women. But damned if they, like so many other goddesses and other mythological figures that come in threes, aren’t more interesting for all their evilness.
Anyway, here’s a drabble.
(Noun: from tri + Latin unus, for “one”)
Three in one, usually in reference to divinity.
You have one goddess, or three. She shapeshifts, at once young, old, motherly, always in flux. Her skin is smooth, now wrinkled, now something else, and between three sets of fingers she spins, draws, and snips a bit of thread, as she hounds those who spill kin’s blood.
The number three is powerful, especially to conceal mysteries. For surely a woman is mysterious and ever changing—no maiden can be a mother, and no mother a crone. Threatened by wisdom, they become kindly, but hell hath no fury like a woman stripped of her power.
Beneath the earth, they wait.