Ocypete, Aello and Celeno.

3 Occurrences

In Greek mythology, the harpies were the personification of winds and storms. They had the head and trunk of a woman and the tail, wings and talons of a bird of prey. Shakespeare uses their appearance to describe their attitude:

Thou art like the harpy,

Which, to betray, dost, with thine angel's face,

Seize in thine eagle's talons.

(4 3 46-8)

The harpies were three: Ocypete, Aello and Celeno. This figure finds an echo in "three words' conference with this harpy" (ADO 2 1 254)

In The Tempest, Prospero has Ariel perform the role of a harpy:

Bravely the figure of this harpy hast thou

Performed, my Ariel, a grace it had devouring.

(3 3 83-4)

John DOEBLER in his Shakespeare's Speaking Pictures: Studies in Iconic Imagery, 1974, (p. 14) thinks that:

In The Tempest the existential process of conversion is caused by the combining of the sudden promise of a tantalizing banquet offered to starving men and the equally sudden frustration provided by the harpy as an emblem of greed.

The number of associations a Renaissance audience might have had with this stage image depends on many variable factors. That the harpy proverbially stood for greed was probably almost universally known. Molière was relying on a commonplace when he called his miser Harpagon, and today we still call a greedy person a harpy.