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Classical Bestiari M.I.D.E.


International team:

Classical Bestiary: Sirens

6. Influence on Western culture

5. Symbolism

4. Iconography and multimedia

3. Description

2. Genealogy and sources

1. Name and etymology


Etymology: from Latin Siren (Late Latin Sirena), from Greek Σειρῆνες ["Odyssey," xii.39 ff.]

Siren: Sea nymph who by her singing lures sailors to their destruction.

1-Name and etymology

Like most mythical creatures, the origin of the Sirens is unknown. Their parentage may come out of Gaia, Phorcys, Achelous, Sterope, and/or one of the Muses.

Ovid’s version: the Sirens searched throughout the world for the lost Persephone

Hellenistic sources: the Sirens were fated to die if anyone who heard their singing passed by unharmed.

Conflicting traditions about the number of Sirens: 2, 3 or more.

Sirens appear in vase-paintings from the sixth century onwards.

2-Genealogy and sources of the Sirens


The form of the Sirens, in both literature and art, is relatively consistent: the body of a bird, the head of a woman and sometimes with human arms. Classicalwisdom.com

4-Iconography and multimedia

The representation over time of the Sirens changed dramatically. Eventually the grotesque image of the Siren evolved to the tempting seductress.Classicalwisdom.com

4-Iconography and multimedia

The Little Mermaid, 1989

Splash film, 1984

H2O: Just Add Water tv series, 2006

4-Iconography and multimedia

Mako Mermaids, Netflix, 2015

The Idle Mermaid tv series, 2014

4-Iconography and multimedia

Siren tv series, 2018

The legends of the blue sea tv series, 2016-2017

4-Iconography and multimedia

The danger

The sirens can symbolize:

The female seduction

The Souls of the dead


The mermaid`s chair, 2005

The Sea Lady, 1901

The Fisherman and his Soul, 1891

"The Little Mermaid, 1837

Literature and arts

6-Influence on Western culture

The Fair Melusina concert overture

Der Ring des Nibelungen opera


6-Influence on Western culture

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