The Graeae sisters, Deino (the terrible), Enyo (the warlike) and Persis (the destroyer) are thought to be old crones from whom Perseus stole the eye they shared, forcing them to reveal the location of the winged sandals, the helmet of invisibility, and the magical sword, used to defeat Medusa.
The stories are so simple. The stories have things wrong. First of all the sisters were not crones, just fully mature women, although to the very young Perseus they may have seemed so. To most 17-year-olds, women over the age of 40 seem ancient. Of course the Gray sisters, as they now like to be called, do appear to be immortal. Each generation of “sisters” follow in the tradition of those who went before them.
Is it true they had only one eye between them? Not exactly.
Deino is blind, but eyes aren’t needed to see what is true. Deino is only called “terrible” by those who are unable to accept the truth. While not unkind, Deino would tell you what you needed to know. Deino is direct and unapologetic about the truth. If you pretend to be working hard, making a big show out of how much you sweat, but there is no progress nor product, Deino will tell you to get your lazy self moving and show some real sweat! Nobody likes this, so they call Deino, the terrible.
Enyo is definitely warlike. Enyo will not abide a bully, whether between children or between countries, and will fight for what is right, regardless of the cost. When Enyo lost an eye in battle, she wore it like it was a badge of honor. Having one remaining eye, I guess you might think this is the eye the myths say the Gray sisters share. No. While Enyo is very ready for a fight for any cause, she doesn’t always have the clear vision to see the best way to deal with a conflict. She is likely to go in throwing her thunder for even a minor conflict. Enyo lacks the vision, in her eagerness to right wrongs, to show any restraint. As you can see the name Enyo the warlike suits her.
Persis does have two normal eyes that see all the colors and shades of our normal world, but she has one thing more, insight or wisdom. Sometimes truth must be tempered with kindness and love. Sometimes a gentle touch works better than a fight to resolve conflict. Sometimes an encouraging word is all that is needed to get others to do the correct thing. It is the insight of what is called the third eye that is the eye the sisters share. Deino and Enyo seek Persis’ wisdom to help them find the correct way. So you ask, why is she called the destroyer? Persis destroys the status quo, and out of that she creates a new reality.
Hiding from the sisters, watching them around the fire, a confused Perseus wasn’t sure what to do next. The sisters knew of his quest, the head of Medusa. Deino understood the likely outcome of Perseus’ meeting with Medusa. Enyo was ready to fight Perseus to protect her friend Medusa. Persis, seeing the young man, called Perseus forward, silencing her sisters.
The Gray sisters listened to his need to bring the head of Medusa to the king in order to save his mother from an unwanted marriage. Perseus was so happy to receive the knowledge Persis gave him about the sandels, helmet and sword, and directions on how to find Medusa, that he called Persis by a new name, Pemphredo “she who guides the way.” Pemphredo is still the name she uses, usually shortened to Pem.