The Effect Of The Sirens Essay

1031 words - 4 pages

The characters in Greek Mythology have multiple interpretations. Among these characters include the dangerous, yet gorgeous Sirens, bird-women who sit on a cliff singing bewitching songs that captivate the minds of innocent travelers and entice them to their deaths. In Homer’s The Odyssey and Margaret Atwood’s “Siren Song,” both poets provide different representations of the Sirens. Homer portrays the Sirens as irresistible in order to establish men as heroes, whereas Atwood depicts them as unsightly and pathetic so she can prove men are foolish and arrogant using imagery, diction, and point of view.
Homer depicts the Sirens as intriguing and desirable because he considers Odysseus as valiant. Homer describes Odysseus’ “'heart inside [him is throbbing] to listen longer,'” suggesting the seductive power of the Sirens (20). The effect of his heart throbbing verifies that Odysseus longs to be with the Sirens, forging an image of a man struggling against his will in order to be near a beautiful temptress. This implies that the Sirens are irresistible and cunning because they are able to deceive the men into falling for them with just one song. Odysseus craves to hear the Siren’s magical song and stay alive, so he has his men physically “bind [him] faster with rope on chafing rope” (24). The immense effect that the Sirens have on him is great, and the fact that the rope is irritating his skin illustrates the effort Odysseus is making to be with the Sirens. Throughout this particular scene, Odysseus attempts to join the Sirens, without realizing the terrible consequences. The temptresses are so “ravishing” and no man can resist their beauty (19). They are so attractive that they have the ability to lure in innocent men and watch them die because, after all, “beauty is pain.” Their “honeyed” voices are so sweet and deliciously thick that one can easily forget that they are also sticky (17). Once the men are drawn to the Sirens, they are stuck and there is no way for them to escape. Additionally, Homer explains Odysseus’ encounter with the Sirens from Odysseus’ point of view. The Sirens try to attract Odysseus by singing compliments to “famous Odysseus,” so he will assume he is the object of their desire (14). The Sirens are intelligent, and therefore determine what Odysseus’ true weaknesses: flattery and the desire for recognition. His faults are similar to other men; however no other men share Odysseus’ unique wish. When Odysseus sails by, they attack his weaknesses, just as they do to the other ships, but Odysseus already is prepared. The Sirens sing to him and promise he will be able to “[sail] on a wiser man” if Odysseus listens to their song (18). His plan almost fails because the song captivates Odysseus and, thus, attempts to join the Sirens, risking his life to gain the knowledge that the Sirens guarantee. Odysseus navigates himself through the sea with hopes of becoming more intelligent. Homer describes the Sirens as beautiful yet cunning...

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