Illustration of Odysseus tied to a ship's mast

The Odyssey

by Homer
Start Free Trial

How does Odysseus escape the sirens?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Odysseus escapes the sirens, mythological creatures who are often portrayed as marine women who lure men to their drowning death through their hauntingly beautiful songs, through having his men tie him to the mast of the ship. Rather than assume that because he is a strong and brave leader that...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

Odysseus escapes the sirens, mythological creatures who are often portrayed as marine women who lure men to their drowning death through their hauntingly beautiful songs, through having his men tie him to the mast of the ship. Rather than assume that because he is a strong and brave leader that he will be able to resist the temptation of the sirens's songs, Odysseus recognizes that he will not be able to resist their deathly calls, and he devises an intelligent and creative plan to save himself and his crew. His crew's ears are filled with beeswax so that they do not have to endure the temptation of the sirens's songs. Through this plan, Odysseus and his men are able to navigate through the waters of the sirens without harm.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In Homer's The Odyssey, the Sirens are women famed for using their beautiful singing to entrance sailors and cause them to sail their ships into dangerous waters and drown. However, Odysseus is able to escape this treachery through a very simple method. Odysseus orders his men to seal their ears with beeswax, thus protecting them from the Sirens' alluring singing. Indeed, Odysseus alone hears the Sirens' seductive song, although he has his men tie him to the mast so that he is unable to respond to the enchanting singing. In successfully navigating this obstacle, Odysseus shows his wisdom and intelligence as a leader. He follows Circe's advice perfectly, and, in doing so, he helps his men escape a treacherous hazard. That said, his men are doomed to die later on in encounters with Scylla, Charybdis, and the cattle of the Sun, so the success of the encounter with the Sirens is somewhat short-lived. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team