a name for fabulous beings occurring in Grecian mythology and first mentioned in the Odyssey of Homer, who enticed seamen by the magic sweetness of their songs and then slew them. Ulysses escaped their power by stopping the ears of his companions with wax and causing himself to be bound to the mast of his vessel until beyond the reach of their musical charms; and the Argonauts were preserved by the singing of Orpheus, which excelled that of the Sirens. The number of the Sirens was at first two; but afterwards three. Their names were said to be Aglaiopheme (clear voice) and Thelxiepea (magic song), Pisinoe being afterwards added, and others being substituted by different writers — e.g. Parthenope, Ligea, and Leucosia. They were fabled to have descended from Achelous, a river god, by the muse Terpsichore or Calliope, or by Sterope, daughter of Porthaon, from Phorcys, or from the earth. Their form was also variously represented — part woman and part fish or bird, endowed with wings, etc., the latter conception leading to their being sometimes identified with the Harpies. The place of the abode of the sirens was also uncertain — the Sicilian headland Pelorum, the island of Capraea, the Sirenusian isles, the island Anthemusa, and the coast of Parthenope (the modern Naples) all having been so designated. At Parthenope the tomb of the siren of that name was shown; and a temple dedicated to the worship of these beings stood near Surrentum. See Vollmer, Worterb. d. Mythol. s.v.; Smith, Dict. of Mythol. s.v.; Anthon, Classical Dict. s.v.

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See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

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