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Waiting for the Harpies To Go Away
May 25, 2011
Whenever I develop one of those nasty digestive disorders that destroys the taste of food, I think of Phineas, son of Agenor, whom Jason met on his voyage to capture the golden fleece.

Apollo blessed Phineas with the gift of prophecy, but when Phineas abused his gift by revealing too much, Zeus punished him with a lingering and sightless old age. Even worse, Zeus commissioned the Harpies to deprive Phineas of the pleasures of eating.

Whenever Phineas tried to put anything into his mouth, the Harpies swooped down and plucked the food from his lips. What little they left him stank of putrefaction. The smell was so horrible, no-one could come near it. Only bitter necessity enabled him to put it into his stomach.

Fortunately Jason's companions, Zetes and Calaïs, sons of the North Wind, had the power to lift the curse. They chased away the Harpies and secured a promise from Iris that the Harpies would never again visit the house of Phineas. Once the Harpies were driven off, the Argonauts gave Phineas a bath, slaughtered a prize sheep and set out a splendid banquet.

Phineus ate ravenously and, someday, so might I.