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Tisiphone, or Tilphousia, was one of the three Erinyes or Furies. Her sisters were Alecto and Megaera.[1] She was the one who punished crimes of murder: parricide, fratricide and homicide.

In Literature[edit]

In Book VI of Virgil's Aeneid, she is described as the guardian of the gates of Tartarus, 'clothed in a blood-wet dress'.[2]

In Book IV of Ovid's Metamorphoses, she is described as a denizen of Dis who wears a dripping red robe and who has a serpent coiled around her waist. At the behest of Juno, Tisiphone drives Athamas and Ino mad with the breath of a serpent extracted from her hair and a poison made from froth from the mouth of Cerberus and Echidna's venom.[3]

According to one myth, she fell in love with a mortal, Cithaeron, but was spurned; in her anger she formed a poisonous snake from her hair, which bit and killed him.[4]

In Book I of Chaucer's "Troilus and Criseyde", the narrator calls upon her to help him to write the tragedy properly.[5]


Between 1779 and 1816 there was a British navy fireship (later converted to a sloop) named after the goddess.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Mythological Index". The Ovid Collection. University of Virginia Library. 
  2. ^ "Virgil: Aeneid VI (A.S.Kline's translation)". poetryintranslation.com. Retrieved 2015-10-25. 
  3. ^ Ovid, Metamorphoses Bk IV:464-511.
  4. ^ Pseudo-Plutarch. De fluviis. 
  5. ^ Geoffrey Chaucer, "Troilus and Criseyde", Book I:5, in "The Riverside Chaucer", 3rd Edition, ed. Larry D. Benson, Oxford University Press, 1988, p.473
  6. ^ http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=16287.0 Kent History Forum

External links[edit]