Mythology

The Sirens

Dangerous muses of the sea, the Sirens sing out their song to fishermen and sailors on the ocean. Their sweet enticing songs lure men to their deaths by making them cast themselves into the sea.

'The Fisherman and the Siren'
by Frederic Lord Leighton (right)

from Life and Death of Jason
by William Morris

Oh, happy seafarers are ye
And surely all your ills are past,
And toil upon the land and sea,
Since ye are brought to us at last;
But now, but now, when ye have lain
Asleep with us a little while
Beneath the washing of the main,
How calm shall be your waking smile!

'The Siren'
by John William Waterhouse (left)

'Ulysses and the Sirens'
by John William Waterhouse

In order to avoid being wooed by the Sirens on their voyage, Ulysses ordered his crew to stuff their ears with wax. The crew then bound Ulysses to the mast of the ship and were instructed to not untie him under any circumstances. As they approached the Sirens' island, the sweet songs came over the breeze and entreated Ulysses. Although he begged to be freed, the crew followed the previous orders. When the ship was well past the island and the songs had faded, Ulysses told his crew that it was then safe to unplug their ears. Thus, the journey past the Sirens was a complete success.