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Σειρῆνες). The daughters of Phorcys, according to later legend of Acheloüs, and one of the Muses. In Homer there are two, in later writers, three, called Ligea, Leucosia, and Parthenopé, or Aglaophemé, Molpé, and Thelxiepea. Homer describes them as dwelling between Circé's isle and Scylla, on an island, where they sit in a flowery meadow, surrounded by the mouldering bones of men, and with their sweet song allure and infatuate those that sail by. Whoever listens to their song and draws near them never again beholds wife and child. They know everything that happens on earth. When Odysseus sailed past, he had stopped up the ears of his companions with wax, while he had made them bind him to the mast, that he might hear their song without danger ( Od. xii. 41-54; 153-300). Orpheus protected the Argonauts from their spell by his own singing (Apollon. Rh. iv. 903). As they were only to live till some one had sailed past unmoved by their song, they cast themselves into the sea, on account either of Odysseus or of Orpheus, and were changed to sunken rocks. When the adventures of Odysseus came to be localized on the Italian and Sicilian shore, the seat of the Sirens was transferred to the neighbourhood of Naples and Sorrento, to the three rocky and uninhabited islets called the Sirenūsae, the Sirenum scopuli of Vergil ( Aen. v. 864; cf. Stat. Silv. ii. 2, 1), or to Capri, or to the Sicilian promontory of Pelorum. There they were said to have settled, after vainly searching the whole earth for the lost Persephoné, their former playmate in the meadows by the Acheloüs; and later legend also assigned this at the time when they in part assumed a winged shape. They were represented as great birds with the heads of women, or with the upper part of the body like that of a woman, with the legs of birds, and with or without wings. At a later period they were sometimes regarded as retaining their original character of fair and cruel tempters and deceivers. But they are more generally represented as singers of the dirge for the dead, and they were hence frequently placed as an ornament on tombs; or as symbols of the magic of beauty, eloquence, and song, on which account their sculptured forms were seen on the funeral monuments of fair women and girls, and of orators and poets— for instance, on those of Isocrates and Sophocles. The National Museum at Athens contains several examples of stone Sirens, not as reliefs, but as separate figures; and a funeral monument of this type may be noticed on a vase in the British Museum, where the Siren is standing on a pillar and playing the lyre. Cf. Eurip. Hel. 169; the Anthologia Palatina, vii. 710, 481; with Miss Harrison's Myths of the Odyssey, pp. 146-182, and Mythology and Monuments of Athens, pp. 582-5.

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