In Greek mythology, they are the three goddesses of revenge, sometimes called the daughters of Night. They were brought about by murder, perjury, ingratitude, disrespect, harshness, violation of filial piety and the laws of hospitality. They are impartial and impersonal and pursue these wrongdoers until they are driven mad and die. But even in death, the criminal does not find rest until he shows remorse. Then the Erinyes become the Eumenides ("protectors of the suppliant", "the well-disposed ones") or the Semnai ("the venerable ones").

They are usually represented as three sisters: Alecto ("the Unceasing"), Megaera ("the Grudging") and Tisiphone ("the Avenging"). They were created from drops of blood, coming from the wounds of Uranus when he was castrated by his son Cronus and which fell upon the Earth.

Artists in those times depicted them as women with fiery eyes and snake hair and with attributes such as torches and whips. Sometimes they were dressed as hunters. Amongst the Romans they were known as Furies ("the furious") or Dirae ("the terrible").