• Tue. Mar 21st, 2023

Seductive Sirens of Greek Mythology and How Heroes Resisted Them


Nov 22, 2022

Sirens are a kind of creature present in historical Greek mythology. Generally described as stunning however harmful creatures , the sirens are remembered for seducing sailors with their candy voices, and, by doing so, luring them to their deaths. The sirens have been talked about by quite a few historical Greek authors. Arguably one of the crucial well-known references concerning the sirens comes from Homer’s Odyssey, wherein the hero Odysseus encounters the sirens throughout his voyage dwelling from Troy.

Terracotta two handed vase or Kylix, adorned with black Sirens. ( Public domain )

Sirens of Greek Mythology in Literature and Artwork of Historical Greece

Within the many written sources of Greek mythology, the variety of sirens, generally spelled as seirenes, different relying on the creator who instructed their legendary story. Homer, for instance, talked about neither the quantity nor names of the sirens that Odysseus and his companions encountered. Different writers, nevertheless, have been extra descriptive. For example, some acknowledged that there have been two sirens, Aglaopheme and Thelxiepeia, while others claimed that there have been three of them; Peisinoë, Aglaope and Thelxiepeia or Parthenope, Ligeia and Leucosia.

Neither did the authors of Greek mythology agree with one another concerning the parentage of the sirens. One creator, as an illustration, claimed that the sirens have been the daughters of Phorcys (a primordial sea god), while one other acknowledged that they have been the youngsters of Terpsichore (one of many 9 Muses). Based on one custom, the sirens have been the companions or handmaidens of Persephone, the daughter of Zeus and Demeter.

Ulysses and the Sirens, circa 1868, by Marie-François Firmin Girard. (Public domain)

Ulysses and the Sirens, circa 1868, by Marie-François Firmin Girard. ( Public domain )

After Persephone’s abduction by Hades, the sirens got wings. Based on some authors, wings have been requested by the sirens themselves, in order that they’d be more practical at looking for their mistress. Different authors attributed these wings to a punishment handed down by Demeter, because the sirens had failed to forestall the kidnapping of Persephone.

In any occasion, this affiliation with the parable of Persephone’s abduction contributed to the depiction of the sirens by the traditional Greeks. Basically, these creatures have been depicted as birds with the heads of girls. In some situations, the sirens of Greek mythology have been additionally depicted with arms. Based on researchers, the sirens (or no less than the way in which they have been portrayed) have been of Japanese origin (the traditional Egyptian ba , for instance, was typically depicted as a fowl with a human head), and entered Greece through the Orientalizing interval of Greek artwork.

An Archaic perfume vase in the shape of a siren, circa 540 BC. (Public domain)

An Archaic fragrance vase within the form of a siren, circa 540 BC. ( Public domain )

Resisting the Sirens’ Seductive Music: The Sirens of the Odyssey

The sirens seem in lots of historical Greek myths . One of the well-known of tales in regards to the sirens will be present in Homer’s Odyssey. On this piece of literature, the sirens are stated to stay on an island close to Scylla and Charybdis, and the hero Odysseus was warned about them by Circe.

In an effort to cease his males from being seduced by the sirens’ singing, Odysseus had his males block their ears with wax. Because the hero wished to listen to the sirens singing, he ordered his males to tie him tightly to the mast of the ship. As Odysseus and his males sailed previous the island which the sirens inhabited, the lads have been unaffected by their music, as they might not hear it. As for Odysseus, he heard the sirens sing, however lived to inform the story, being certain to the mast.

Ulysses and the Sirens, 1891, John William Waterhouse. Ulysses (Odysseus) is tied to the mast and the crew have their ears covered to protect them from the sirens. (Public domain)

Ulysses and the Sirens, 1891, John William Waterhouse. Ulysses (Odysseus) is tied to the mast and the crew have their ears coated to guard them from the sirens. ( Public domain )

One other Siren story from Greek mythology is that of Jason and the Argonauts . Like Odysseus, Jason and his males additionally needed to sail previous the siren’s island. Fortuitously for the Argonauts, that they had Orpheus, the legendary musician, with them. Because the sirens started to sing their music, within the hopes of seducing the Argonauts, Orpheus performed a tune on his lyre.

The music overpowered the voices of the sirens of Greek mythology , and the Argonauts have been in a position to sail safely previous the island. Just one Argonaut, Butes, was enchanted, and because of this he jumped out of the ship as a way to swim to them. Fortuitously for him, he was saved by Aphrodite, who took him from the ocean, and positioned him in Lilybaeum.

High picture: Ulysses (Odysseus) and the Sirens of Greek mythology in a portray courting to circa 1909 by Herbert James Draper. Supply: Public domain

By Wu Mingren

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