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Sirens :: World Mythology

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In Greek mythology, Sirens were part human, part bird. The Sirens lived on a rocky island in the middle of the sea, possibly near Italy. They sang melodies so beautiful that sailors passing by couldn't resist getting closer to them. Following the sound of music, the sailors would steer their boats towards them or jump in the water to get closer. Either way, it always ended in disaster on the rocks.


Sirens - Who Were They?

The three Sirens that were written about the most in Greek Mythology were Pisinoe, Aglaope and Thelxiepi, all daughters of the river god, Achelous. One of them played the lyre, one played the flute and another one sang. Legend has it that Demeter, the goddess of harvest and fertility, turned the Sirens into the half-woman, half-bird creatures when the three failed to save Demeter's daughter, Persephone. Persephone was kidnapped by the god of the Underworld, Hades.


Resisting the Sounds of the Sirens

There are only two stories of men resisting the Sirens. In the story Odyssey, Odysseus ordered his men to put beeswax in their ears so they couldn't hear the music as they sailed by. His men tied Odysseus to the ship's mast so he could hear the enchanting tunes but wouldn't be able to swim ashore.
Jason and the Argonauts were also saved because they had Orpheus, (a talented musician) on board with them. He played music that was even more beautiful so the men hardly heard the sound of the Sirens.


Sirens - Fun Facts

  • If you've seen O Brother, Where Art Thou?, you'll have heard the enchanting music of some Sirens.
  • The Starbucks logo is often referred to as the "Siren Logo" due to their depiction of a Siren on all their products.
  • West Indian Manatees (a water mammal that looks much like a sea lion) come from the Order Sirenia, named after the Sirens of Greek Mythology.
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