In Odyssey Book XII Circe warns Odysseus about the dangers he will face at sea. One of these is the Sirens. In the adventure of the Argonauts, Jason and his men faced the danger of the Sirens with the help of the singing of Orpheus. Odysseus has no Orpheus to drown out the lovely voices, so he orders his men to stuff their ears with wax and tie him to a mast so he can't escape, but can still hear them singing. This painting shows the sirens as beautiful women-birds who fly to their prey instead of luring them from afar.
John William Waterhouse was an English Neoclassicist painter who was influenced by the Pre-Raphaelites.