The Siren

A Siren is a mythical creature that has the body of a bird, and the head of a woman. [1]The Siren was represented in Greek myths as a beautiful woman who rested on the ocean shore. The Siren lived on the island of Anthemoessa, which in present day would be located in the sea between Sicily and Italy.[2] The appearance of a Siren is thought to be that of a seductive temptress. Her beauty has been described as a reflection of the "treasures and power of the sea." On the ocean shore the Siren would sing songs of love while sometimes playing stringed instruments. She would then use her enchanting voice and music to lure nearby sailors. The mesmerized sailors would die a grotesque death due to this singing as it would cause them to lose their sense of direction.[3] Possible deaths might be from the ships crashing into the rocky shores, drowning, or from being eaten by the Siren.

Etymology Edit

Siren comes from the Greeks. The greek word "Seirén" means "deceitful woman", and "entangler". Later, Latin and French added snake-like imagery to the word. One of the definitions of the word is a type of American snake-like amphibian coming from the Middle English evolution of the word.

Folk History Edit


In Greek myths there were thought to be three Sirens in number. Some of the more famous Sirens include Parthenope, Ligea, and Leucosia. The names of the other less common Sirens include Aglaope, Aglaophonos, Molpe, Raidne, Teles, and Thelxepeia. [4]It is believed that the father of the Sirens was Achelous the river god. They all shared a common father, however had different mothers. Some of their names were Terpsichore, Melpomene, Sterope, and Chthon.[5] In another myth, Zeus created the Sirens to be the companions/handmaidens of his daughter Persephone. Unfortunately, Persephone was abducted by the god Hades. Demeter, Persephone's goddess mother, transformed the handmaidens to have bodies of birds in order to help with the search.[6] Eventually they gave up, and went to live on the island of Anthemoessa. Other stories suggest that Demeter gave the handmaidens wings in the beginning in order to help protect Persephone. Then when Persephone was abducted Demeter cursed them for failing to protect her. She then transformed them to have the body of a bird. From then on the Sirens sang a beautiful, yet sad song, calling for Persephone's return.

Modern Usage Edit


Over the years there has been a change in the image of the Siren. It was once viewed as half bird and half woman. In modern times, films and other forms of media have strayed away from the original image, and now depict Sirens as mermaids. The depiction of Sirens as mermaids is a very misconstrued understanding of their basic mythology and language. Since in other languages, the word for mermaid was similar to the word Siren, many people ended up confusing the two and started sh this ish is crazy owing Sirens as mermaids or aquatic beings instead of a mix of bird and woman. [7]

Homer's Odyssey Edit


One story in which the Siren appears is in Homer's Odyssey. In this tale the hero named Odysseus, and his crew encounter the Sirens while at sea. Odysseus was a very curious man, and wanted to hear the beautiful Sirens' song. He had his crew plug their ears with beeswax, and tie him to the ship's mast.[8]He insisted that they not untie him no matter how much he begged. As the Sirens sang, Odysseus becomes seduced by their song and their lyrics. The Sirens promise him knowledge and they say they will reveal his future to him. As their song continues, he begs for his crew to untie him, but they do not, and escape the island successfully.


List of Texts/Media Edit

  • Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas
    • In this film Sinbad and his crew encounter the Sirens while at sea. They appear as water women, who try to seduce the crew.
  • O Brother, Where Art Thou?
    • This movie has a modern take on Sirens. They are presented as three women singing an enchanting song to seduce three escaped convicts.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
    • This movie presents Sirens as mermaids, who are trying to seduce the pirates.
  • The Odyssey
    • In this book the Sirens appear to Odysseus and his crew as monstrous women with beautiful voices.
  • Charmed
    • In this TV show Phoebe and Cole fall under the spell of a beautiful woman, who happens to be a Siren.
  • Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated “The Siren’s Song”
    • Sirens are depicted in Season 1, Episode 20 as mermaids. A sardine boat goes missing near a haunted oil platform and the squad goes looking for it. During their search for the boat they come across mermaids that sing a song similar to that of siren’s songs.
  • Ice Age: Continental Drift. Dir. Steve Martino, Mike Thurmeier. 2012. Film.
    • A sequel to previous Ice Age films, this film recounts an adventure as the continent begins to drift apart. Through the main characters adventures they encounter sirens that appear as fishes rather than women. They act as minor villains and shape shift into their opponents vulnerability.

References Edit

  1. 1.0 1.1 "Siren." Encyclopedia Britannica. Web. 19 Oct. 2015.
  2. "Siren." Ancient History Encyclopedia. Web. 19 Oct. 2015.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Sirens-Mythological Greeks Sirens." Legends and Chronicles. Web. 19 Oct. 2015.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Siren (Mythology)." Wikipedia. Web. 19 Oct. 2015.
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Sirens." Greek Mythology. Web. 19 Oct. 2015.
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Seirenes." Theoi. Web. 19 Oct. 2015.
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Sirens." Sirens Mythology-Crystalinks. Web. 19 Oct. 2015.
  8. 8.0 8.1 "The Greek Sirens:Beautiful Yet Dangerous Mythical Creatures." HubPages. Web. 19 Oct. 2015.