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Scenes in Art Based on the Odyssey


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Odysseus and the Sirens in the Odyssey
John William Waterhouse (1849-1917), 'Ulysses and the Sirens' (1891).

John William Waterhouse (1849-1917), ''Ulysses and the Sirens'' (1891).

Public Domain. By John William Waterhouse (1891). Courtesy of Wikipedia.
A siren call means something that is alluring. It is dangerous and potentially deadly. Even if you know better, the siren call is hard to resist. In Greek mythology, the sirens who allured were sea nymphs beguiling enough to begin with, but with even more enticing voices.

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.

Homer The Odyssey - Book 12: Return to Circe's island to bury Elpenor | Odyssey Summary Book XII | Notes | Major Characters | Quiz on The Odyssey - Book XII

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