It was said that the Sirens dwelling place was a ghastly sight to behold: a great heap of bones lays all around them, with the flesh of the victims still rotting off the dead bodies… In the “Odyssey,” Homer says nothing about the Sirens outward appearance, but one can infer from the text that he has in mind humanlike creatures, if not beautiful maidens.
Ever the adventurer, he had himself bound to the mast, instructing his sailors to tie him even tighter if he starts begging them to be unfastened or tries to break loose by himself. Ever the adventurer, Odysseus didn’t want to miss the opportunity to experience the luring song of the Sirens and hear what the fuss is all about.
So, once Odysseus passed them unharmed, disheartened by their humbling defeat, the Sirens hurled themselves into the sea and bothered no man ever again. Half-birds, half beautiful maidens, the Sirens were singing enchantresses capable of luring passing sailors to their islands, and, subsequently, to their doom.
Biographical Information Real Name: Wicked Singers Species: Water Nymphs and Mermaids Parents:' Character Information First appearance: Ulysses and the Journey Home GALLERY The Sirens were magical, seductive water nymphs. The sirens were the bane of sailors and were feared by all people at sea. They used their beautiful voices to enchant sailors and make them crash their ships on the rocks. The sirens were beautiful, glowing mermaids with striped tails and dolphin-like fins.
Many of the sirens have golden hair, green skin and yellow scales. Their singing makes humans jump into the sea were they drown, and it causes ships to sail on to the sharp rocks.
However, unlike the relatively harmless merfolk, sirens were often depicted as deadly temptresses who would lure sailors towards rocky shores via their hypnotic singing, causing the sailors to crash into the rocks and meet with a watery demise. No matter their appearance, Sirens always share the quality of a haunting singing voice that is irresistible to mortals.
It is said that once a sailor heard the Sirens song he was doomed to follow it, suggesting it was extremely powerful. In The Odyssey, Odysseus devised a clever plan to overcome the spirits, he had his men plug their ears with wax then tied himself to the ship mast as they sailed through the Sirens territory.
Luckily for him, his crew knew better and ignored his demands and once the Sirens song faded from earshot Odysseus began to regain his sanity again. Sirens make an appearance near the middle of Ice Age: Continental Drift, though this time they have both genders.
Popular blockbuster movies give us no shortage of female mythological creatures. The fearsome snake-haired Medusa has appeared in multiple feature films, as have mermaids and sphinxes.
Fantastical female entities, like their male counterparts, can be attractive or hideous to the eyes, wise or foolish, good or evil. For this lesson, we'll take a journey through the world's myths and folklore to glimpse the different female entities they have to offer.
In Greek mythology, nymphs are spirits of nature that take on pretty, young female forms. Aside from being found in lakes or seas, mermaids can also be seen on rocks combing their hair while holding a mirror.
The Gorgons are female creatures in Greek myth who guard the entrance to the Underworld. Gorgons have impenetrable scales covering their bodies, along with fangs, brass hands, and living snakes for hair.
In Greek mythology, the harpies were winged monsters that had the bodies of birds but the faces of hideous old women. A group of harpies also acted as tormentors to the blind prophet Phineas by stealing his food every time he sat down to eat.
In Irish myths, the Bean Side, or the Banshee as she is popularly known, is a female spirit or a fairy whose wailing signals that someone is about to die. Banshees are portrayed in a gray cloak over a green dress, long hair, and red eyes from continuous weeping.
The Greek Sphinx is portrayed with a female head or upper body, bird wings, the breast and paws of a lion, and the tail of a snake. According to the play Oedipus Rex by Sophocles, this Sphinx resides on a high rock and asks all who passes a riddle.
The Valkyries, beautiful armored women who ride on winged horses, appear in Norse mythology. The purpose of the Valkyries is to search battlefields for the bravest soldiers who have been slain and escort their souls to the hall of the god Odin, called Valhalla.
For example, we learned that a Gorgon is a hideous creature that can turn anybody that looks at them to stone; that harpies were winged monsters that had the bodies of birds but the faces of hideous old women; that a Banshee is a female spirit or a fairy whose wailing signals that someone is about to die; that a Greek Sphinx is portrayed with a female head or upper body, bird wings, the breast and paws of a lion, and the tail of a snake; and that the Valkyries are beautiful armored women who ride on winged horses. You'll be taken through Greek, Irish, and Norse myths and learn about different female spirits, monsters, and other entities.
Gods, goddesses, demigods, horrible monsters, and beasts of hybrid forms roam the world of Ancient Greek mythology. From Sirens that lure sailors to their deaths by their sweet voice, the ravenous Sphinx guarding the entrance to a city, and evil Lamina who has an insatiable appetite for the flesh of small children.
These Greek mythological creatures that combine female beauty with beastly ugliness have been titillating fantasies of generations of artists and have inspired them to create their well-known masterpieces. Arachne was the daughter of a shepherd and a talented weaver who challenged Athena, the goddess of wisdom and craft, to a weaving contest.
The 19th-century French artist and printmaker Gustav More (1832-1883) produced a print illustrating the torments of Arachne for Dante’s (1265-1321) Divine Comedy (14th century). The Greek mythological creatures: Gustav More, Arachne, Illustration for Dante’s Divine Comedy, 1868, etching, public domain.
If anyone unwarily draws in too close and hears the singing of the Sirens, his wife and children will never welcome him home again, for they sit in a green field and warble him to death with the sweetness of their song. Works of the 19th-century artist John William Waterhouse (1849-1917) show scenes from Greek mythology in a romanticized manner.
The famous artist Edward Munch (1863-1944), who painted the iconic Scream (1893), is also known to favor eerie, uncanny, and mystical subjects. In the following artwork by Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) you can see the encounter of Scylla and Caucus before the horrid events ensue.
The Greek mythological creatures: Peter Paul Rubens, Scylla and Caucus, oil on canvas, 1836, Muse Bonnet While the description of Gorgons varies across Greek literature, the earliest source defines them as three sisters, Steno, Surface, and Medusa, who had hair made of venomous serpents.
According to the legend, Perseus was given a shield by the goddess Athena and a scythe by Hermes, emissary, and messenger of the Greek gods. The disembodied head of Medusa is a common theme in art and craft, and in the work below the gruesome sight has been captured by Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640).
The Greek mythological creatures: Peter Paul Rubens, The Head of the Medusa, c. 1618, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria. In the legend of Perseus, the hero steals their eye and forces them to give out the location of three items needed to kill their sister Medusa.
Advocate of Classical beauty and member of the British Pre-Raphaelite movement Sir Edward Burne-Jones (1833-1898) gave the sisters an appealing and romantic appearance in his following work. In Greek mythology, they were first described as companions of Hecate, the goddess of magic, herbs, ghosts, and necromancy.
They also assumed the forms of beautiful women to lure young men into their beds to then feed on their flesh and blood. The most iconic female vampires of the popular culture are unarguably fruits of Bram Stoker’s (1847-1912) archetypal novel Dracula (1897) and its 1992 namesake screen adaptation by director Francis Ford Coppola.
What Lean had you, every day? Did giant Lizards come and crouch before you on the reedy banks? Did Gryphon with great metal flanks leap on you in your trampled couch? And from the brick-built Lyman tomb what horrible Chimera amenity fearful heads and fearful flames to breed new wonders from your womb? Your horrible and heavy breath makes the light flicker in the lamp, And on my brow I feel the damp and dreadful news of night and death.
The Greek mythological creatures: Franz on Stuck, The Kiss of the Sphinx, 1895, Szépmvészeti Museum, Budapest, Hungary. The Greek mythological creatures: John William Waterhouse, Lamina and the Soldier, 1905, private collection.