What was the fate of sailors that heard the Sirens' song in ancient mythology?

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In Book XII of Homer's epic poem, The Odyssey , the hero, Odysseus, gets some advice from an immortal nymph named Circe about how to survive the rest of his journey home. She tells him that he and his crew will have to pass near the island where the Sirens...

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In Book XII of Homer's epic poem, The Odyssey, the hero, Odysseus, gets some advice from an immortal nymph named Circe about how to survive the rest of his journey home. She tells him that he and his crew will have to pass near the island where the Sirens live and that these creatures "spellbind any man alive." When a sailor hears the Sirens' voices, "no sailing home for him, no wife rising to meet him . . ." Instead, he will steer his ship toward the island and be dashed against the rocks. There, the Sirens repose on their land, but "round them [lie] heaps of corpses, rotting away . . ." In other words, then, the fate of sailors who hear the Sirens' song is death. As a result, Circe advises Odysseus to stop his men's ears with beeswax and to have them bind him to the ship's mast. This way, he will be able to hear the Sirens' song but not jeopardize his own or his crew's lives by steering the ship toward the jagged rocks. This is what he does.

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The Sirens, found in Greek mythology, represent a group of two, or sometimes three, creatures that were described as "half bird and half woman." The Sirens were regarded as dangerous because it was said that their singing abilities, coupled with their ability to play the lyre, attracted sailors passing by. These sailors were said to then venture off course towards the Sirens, and would become so enticed with the Sirens' singing that they would become fated to die. It is never directly stated however that the Sirens killed the sailors they enticed. Most famously, the Greek writer Homer, in his book Odyssey, mentions the SirensIn this story, the Sirens attempt to lure the famous Odysseus and his crew towards them. Odysseus, wary of what happened to sailors who heard the Sirens’ song, still wanted to hear it for himself. To make this possible, he forced his crew to plug their ears with wax so that they could continue sailing without hearing the Sirens. He then was tied to the ship's mast, allowing him to listen to the song without leading the ship astray.

 

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