Sirens. Seductresses. Mermaids. Monsters.
All derived from just a few lines in Greek literature. And those few lines have influenced cultures around the world for centuries.
But a few misconceptions have come as a result. One of the biggies is that a Siren is the same thing as a mermaid.
In fact, they’re a little scary looking. And I’m not a guy, but I don’t think I’d ever be seduced by their physical qualities.
Don’t believe me?
Maybe this little image will help.
I know I know. You think she’s hot. Well, everyone is entitled to their own opinion.
So why is seduction so closely tied to a Siren?
Well, their voices did enchant. You could not hear their voice and resist their call. Now, most of Greek mythology is centered around a Hero’s Journey… not a Heroine’s Journey. So we don’t know for sure what effect a Siren would have on a female. But men were goners.
I’ve always been fascinated by Sirens and the effect they’ve had on today’s culture. You see evidence of them everywhere. Artists have been drawing them for years. Well, not true half-bird, half-women Sirens, but regardless, they are a mainstay.
Sirens weren’t always monsters. They actually were beautiful women, daughters of the muses and the sea-god Phorcys (a lot of debate on their actual parentage), and handmaidens of Persephone, daughter of the goddess Demeter.
When Persephone was kidnapped by Hades to be Queen of the Underworld, Demeter cursed the Sirens, giving them wings to fly over the earth in search of her daughter.
Korrina, in Book One of The Siren’s Call: Nocturne, was forced to watch one of the Sirens become the monster pictured above.
My brain took a high-altitude skydive without a parachute and splattered on the ground. I knew I was screaming, but I couldn’t hear myself.
The two had become one. One monstrous being. Bird from the neck down with a woman’s head attached to its neck. Like a sick design your own character game.
I think she describes it pretty well.
I want to leave you with one thought. Sirens have a bad rep. But, what if we got it wrong? What if they aren’t the bad guys at all?
Disclaimer: I do not have a doctorate in mythology. But I do love to research and read and obsess over my current series, The Siren’s Call.
Excerpted from The Odyssey by Homer (c. 850 BC)
translated by Samuel Butler (1835-1902)
“I had hardly finished telling everything to the men before we reached the island of the two Sirens, for the wind had been very favourable. Then all of a sudden it fell dead calm; there was not a breath of wind nor a ripple upon the water, so the men furled the sails and stowed them; then taking to their oars they whitened the water with the foam they raised in rowing. Meanwhile I look a large wheel of wax and cut it up small with my sword. Then I kneaded the wax in my strong hands till it became soft, which it soon did between the kneading and the rays of the sun-god son of Hyperion. Then I stopped the ears of all my men, and they bound me hands and feet to the mast as I stood upright on the crosspiece; but they went on rowing themselves. When we had got within earshot of the land, and the ship was going at a good rate, the Sirens saw that we were getting in shore and began with their singing.
“‘Come here,’ they sang, ‘renowned Ulysses, honour to the Achaean name, and listen to our two voices. No one ever sailed past us without staying to hear the enchanting sweetness of our song- and he who listens will go on his way not only charmed, but wiser, for we know all the ills that the gods laid upon the Argives and Trojans before Troy, and can tell you everything that is going to happen over the whole world.’
“They sang these words most musically, and as I longed to hear them further I made by frowning to my men that they should set me free; but they quickened their stroke, and Eurylochus and Perimedes bound me with still stronger bonds till we had got out of hearing of the Sirens’ voices. Then my men took the wax from their ears and unbound me.”