The Erinyes are usually called the Furies, in English. For those using the Greek names, they are often referred to euphemistically as Eumenides "gracious ones." The Furies pursued particularly heinous criminals and drove them mad with their pursuit.
Their most famous victim was Orestes, whose crime was matricide.
Their origin was said to have been from Nyx (Night) or the drops of blood from the castration of Uranus.
Appearance of the Erinyes
The Roman Furies
The Dirae (in Latin) are often assumed to be the same as the Furies (Furiae).
- "The Lament of Juturna: Pathos and Interpretation in the Aeneid"
Transactions of the American Philological Association, 1997
- "Vergil's Furies
Robert J. Edgeworth
The Harvard Theological Review, 1983
In Vergil's Aeneid, it's Alecto who precipitates the war with Latium.
- "Vergil's Dirae, South Italy, and Etruria"
C. J. Mackie
Trivia: Alecto is sometimes spelled Allecto. Some spelling changes are not exceptional: For instance, Julius can be spelled Iulius. Other unexceptional spellings reveal the subtle difference between a Greek and a Latin spelling, as when the ending of a name is -aeus instead of -aios. The double-L in the Latin word suggests assimilation of the prepositional prefix ad- which is not present in the single-L version, so I looked it up. Huys writes that both versions are attested in Greek, but the double-L is used for metrical reasons.
"P. Oxy. 61.4099: A Combination of Mythographic Lists with Sentences of the Seven Wise Men," by Marc Huys. Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik, 1996, p. 209.