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  • Writer's pictureMar de Afetos

The parallel between Desalma and the Erinyes.

How far would you go to avenge the death of a daughter?" says Anele, played by Isabel Teixeira.

Desalma is a Brazilian suspense-thriller TV Show placed in Brígida, a fictional small town modelled on Ukrainian culture in southern Brazil. In 1988, during the Ivana Kupala celebration, Halyna (Anna Melo), daughter of the town's witch, Haia (Cassia Kis), disappears and dies. Thirty years after the event, the town decides to celebrate the feast again, but strange situations begin to happen.

Recorded in Hesiod's Theogony, the Erinyes emerged from the wounded blood of Uranus spilt on Earth, with the promise that the act of his son Kronos, who had castrated him, would be avenged, promising the dethronement of the titan.

Known as the goddesses of family vengeance, the Erinyes are present in several Greek poems, as in the myth of Iphigenia in which Agamemnon, her father, offers her in sacrifice to the goddess Artemis. Clytemnestra, the young girl's mother, the moment she discovers her husband's deed is embodied by terrible pain and invoked by the Erinyes, swearing vengeance on her daughter Iphigenia and brutally murdering her husband ten years later upon his return from war.

During those ten years, Clytemnestra was so consumed by the powers of the goddesses and the desire for retaliation that she abandoned her youngest son. Years after his father's death, now an adult and filled with resentment over his mother's rejection of him and his father's death, the man murders Clytemnestra. In other words, the Erinyes are entities that affect generations. In the traditional Greek model and religions, it is a grudge and pain caused by the crime committed to a family member that pervades through time, becoming a curse.

In our daily lives, we can see the Erinyes at work when we are consumed by pain and live through the wounds. It is a pain that transforms, that creates a shield, defences, stress so gigantic that the individual can no longer live life without thinking about the pain. In the series, we see the power of the Erinyes through Haia's personality change. While her daughter was alive, even with the death of her husband, the woman wore dark clothes, black hair, was willing to help people in the community, as when she helped the sick child who could not afford medical treatment. She was affectionate with her daughter, kissing her on the forehead and trying to protect her.

After the murder of her daughter, Haia let her hair turn white, she did not smile, she grumbled and was recurrent with a rifle in her hand, she wore only black clothes and was consumed by grief and hatred for the Skravonski family, who were blamed for the death of Halyna and her husband.

Haia in 1988 and Haia in 2020

The witch spent thirty years of her life waiting for the perfect moment to avenge Halyna's death. There is no limit of time, no limit of effort to avenge the loss of a daughter. Revenge does not happen immediately when orchestrated by the Furies. The deed must be thought out, digested, prepared. With each passing minute, hour, day, year, the pain increases and the power grows. Revenge is brutal, barbaric, instinctive. Like Clytemnestra who kills Agamemnon with axes to the chest while relaxing in the bathtub prepared by her.

In the case of the series, there was a desire to put his daughter in a human body. This is a spell that needs time, dedication and precision. For this, many people had to suffer, especially those who were involved in the crime. It does not matter if it is a child, a teenager or an adult. The family revenge does not face its victims, it wants "justice". Every being who was involved in Halyna's death and her descendants were pawns in Haia's vengeance, confirming the structural and systemic part of the power of the vengeful goddesses.

However, all vengeance caused by the Erinyes comes at a price: they perpetuate themselves. Which, if there is a second season, we will get to see a little more of the unfolding of Halyna's soul transmutation.

Although we have focused on the Furies and Haia. Desalma has beautiful mythological parallels, such as the Malkas, spirits of women who have drowned and wander in the forest seeking revenge, which closely resembles the Mexican tale of La Llorona. However, these parallels are to another moment.

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