(2 syl.). Vultures with the head and breasts of a woman, very
fierce and loathsome, living in an atmosphere of filth and stench, and
contaminating everything which they came near. Homer mentions but one harpy. Hesiod gives two, and later writers three.
The names indicate that these monsters were personifications of
whirlwinds and storms. Their names were Ocypeta (rapid), Celeno
(blackness), and Aëll'o (storm). (Greek harpuiai,
verb harpazo, to seize; Latin harpyia. See Virgil:
Æneid, iii. 219, etc.).
He is a regular harpy.
One who wants to appropriate everything; one who sponges on another
“I will ... do you any embassage ... rather than hold three words
conference with this harpy.” —Shakespeare: Much Ado About Nothing, ii. 1.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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