According to Hesiod, she was the daughter of Gaea fertilized by the blood spilled from Uranus when Cronus castrated him. She is the sister of Tisiphone (Vengeance) and Megaera (Jealousy). Alecto is the Erinys with the job of castigating the moral crimes (such as anger), especially if they are against other people. Her function is similar to Nemesis, with the difference that Nemesis's function is to castigate crimes against the gods. Alecto appeared in Virgil's Aeneid, in Dante's Inferno, in the musical piece Music for a While by Purcell, in Miklós Zrínyi's Siege of Sziget, in the works of Dostoyevsky, and in Handel's Rinaldo HWV 7 in the Aria "Sibillar gli angui d'Aletto".
In the Aeneid (Book 7), Alecto was demanded by Juno to not let the Trojans have their way with King Latinus by marriage or besiege Italian borders. Alecto's mission is to wreak havoc on the Trojans and cause their downfall through war. In order to do this, Alecto takes over the body of Queen Amata who clamors for all of the Latin mothers to riot against the Trojans. She disguises herself as Juno's priestess Calybe and appears to Turnus in a dream persuading him to begin the war against the Trojans. Met with a mocking response from Turnus, Alecto abandons persuasion and attacks Turnus with a torch, causing his blood to "boil with the passion for war". Unsatisfied with her work in igniting the war, Alecto asks Juno if she can provoke more strife by drawing in bordering towns, but Juno replies that she will manage the rest of the war herself: You're roving far too freely, high on the heavens' winds, and the Father, king of steep Olympus, won't allow it. You must give way. Whatever struggle is still to come, I'll manage it myself. (Virgil, Aeneid, trans. Robert Fagles, Book 7, ll.646-649)
In popular culture
- "The Furies" episode of Xena: Warrior Princess (season 3)
- Alecto is a minor but important character in Miklós Zrínyi's Siege of Sziget, being sent by the Archangel Michael to inspire Suleiman the Magnificent to march on Hungary, thereby setting the epic's events in motion.
- Alecto is one of the main antagonist in God of War: Ascension.