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In Greek legend Phineus was engaged to the princess Andromeda until Perseus heroically killed a monster called the Gorgon, rescued Andromeda and supplanted him. Phineus then attempted to kill Perseus at the wedding and was turned into stone by the Gorgon's head.

Among other legendary heroes of this name was a Thracian king plagued by Harpies who stole of him and defiled his food; the Argonauts rescued him, an event probably represented in Paolo Fiammingo's painting, 'The Sons of Boreas pursuing the Harpies'.