Phineus's own blinding was variously attributed to the outrage against his sons, his giving Phrixus directions on his journey, or because he preferred long life to sight, or, as reported in the Argonautica (thus the best-known version), for revealing the future to mankind. For this reason he was also tormented by the Harpies, who stole or defiled whatever food he had at hand or, according to the Catalogue of Women, drove Phineus himself to the corners of the world. According to scholia on the Odyssey, when asked by Zeus if he preferred to die or lose sight as punishment for having his sons killed by their stepmother, Phineus chose the latter saying he would rather never see the sun, and consequently it was the scorned Helios who sent the Harpies against him. However the Harpies plagued him, deliverance from this curse motivated Phineus's involvement in the voyage of the Argo. Those accounts in which Phineus is stated to have blinded his sons, add that they had their sight restored to them by the sons of Boreas, or by Asclepius.
When the ship landed by his Thracian home, Phineus described his torment to the crew and told them that his brothers-in-law, the wing-footed Boreads, both Argonauts, were fated to deliver him from the Harpies. Zetes demurred, fearing the wrath of the gods should they deliver Phineus from divine punishment, but the old seer assured him that he and his brother Calais would face no retribution. A trap was set: Phineus sat down to a meal with the Boreads standing guard, and as soon as he touched his food the Harpies swept down, devoured the food and flew off. The Boreads gave chase, pursuing the Harpies as far as the "Floating Islands" before Iris stopped them lest they kill the Harpies against the will of the gods. She swore an oath by the Styx that the Harpies would no longer harass Phineus, and the Boreads then turned back to return to the Argonauts. It is for this reason, according to Apollonius, that the "Floating Islands" are now called the Strophades, the "Turning Islands". Phineus then revealed to the Argonauts the path their journey would take and informed them how to pass the Symplegades safely, thus partially filling the same role for Jason that Circe did for Odysseus in the Odyssey.
^The name is occasionally rendered "Phineas" in popular culture, as in the film Jason and the Argonauts. "Phineus" may be associated with the ancient city of Phinea (or Phineopolis) on the Thracian Bosphorus.
Sophocles, Sophocles. Vol 1: Oedipus the king. Oedipus at Colonus. Antigone. With an English translation by F. Storr. The Loeb classical library, 20. Francis Storr. London; New York. William Heinemann Ltd.; The Macmillan Company. 1912. Greek text available at the Perseus Digital Library.
Tripp, Edward, Crowell's Handbook of Classical Mythology, Thomas Y. Crowell Co; First edition (June 1970). ISBN069022608X.