Odysseus and the Sirens


Sometimes a tempting offer is too good to refuse, even if it means risking one’s life


Odysseus also encounters the famous sirens during his wanderings. Typically, in Greek depictions, the sirens they are half-woman half-bird creatures that perch on the rocks by the sea and sing beautiful songs that lure men who, refusing to leave, die of starvation.

In the Odyssey, Circe warns Odysseus about the sirens and tells him to plug his and his crew’s ears with beeswax in order to block their sweet songs from entering their ears. Being curious about the songs the Sirens sing, Odysseus only plugs his crew’s ears with beeswax and then has his men tie him to the mast of the ship, instructing them not to untie him… no matter how much he begs for it. Odysseus hears the song and begs and pleads that his crew release him, but his faithful crew only tighten the ropes more, binding him to the mast.

Ulysses and the Sirens

Ulysses and the Sirens, Herbert James Draper

It is then revealed that the reason the songs allure and entice men is because they sing of past and future truths.

They sing to Odysseus about his past endeavors, such as the glory and suffering he endured on the battlefields of Troy, and his future actions and what he will achieve… and they falsely promise that their hearers will live to tell these truths to others. Odysseus, of course, achieves this and this is how we are able to get this account from him.



Κράτα το

5 comments on “Odysseus and the Sirens

    • The Sirens, which typify worldly temptation, promise to deliver you the desires of your heart. In the case of Odysseus, this was wisdom. But their message was deceptive. To cease his course and approach the Sirens would mean certain death. He may enjoy the pleasure of the Sirens’ music for a short time, but the experience would be short lived. His fate would be to join the numerous other mariners whose bones littered the island. What a parallel for temptation! In like-manner, temptation gives the promise of pleasure and enjoyment. It promises to give you the desires and longings of your heart, that “Thy soul shall into raptures rise!” If it didn’t make those promises, it would not be tempting!

      Liked by 1 person

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