It was the sirens that were known for their singing voices, supposedly of such beauty that sailors would forget what they were doing, and simply stop to listen. Ships would crash on the rocks around the sirens island, killing those who fell prey to their song.
Originally, there were only three sirens, and they started out as mortal human women who were the handmaidens of Persephone, daughter of the goddess Demeter. When they couldn’t find her they eventually gave up and went to live on the island of Anthemoessa, cursed by Demeter (who was angry at their abandonment of the search) to remain in their half-bird form.
The sirens were further cursed when they entered a singing competition with the Muses and lost the contest as well as their wings and many of their feathers. And they did; when Odysseus had his men block their ears and then tied himself to the mast of his ship, so he could listen but not interfere, the sirens hurled themselves into the sea and died as he passed.
Thomas Conclave’s “La Male Regale,” written in the 15th century, clearly refers to mermaids luring sailors to their death with their song. Strangely, it is this melding of the two creatures that has persisted throughout the centuries; according to sailors’ logs and records dating back to the 1600s, mermaids were very, very real.
However, that's pretty much where the resemblances end, because as Audubon points out, while mermaids strictly live in the water, sirens are bird-women who soar across the air, land, and only sometimes the sea. These flying creatures, mentioned as far back as The Odyssey, have otherworldly voices that tempt men with whatever they desire: Odysseus, for instance, defied warnings and asked to be strapped to his ship's hull, so he could hear the siren's song.
Mentions of mermaids, on the other hand, date way back to the Assyrians, according to. However, the so-called “Nereid” of Greek mythology, described by the The oi Project as the sea-nymph daughters of the Aegean Sea, could have also helped inspire some later mermaid myths known today.
Well, it seems time and translation confusion may have played a part, writes Vice. Poets in later years began referring to sirens as half-women, half-fish, even though mermaids remained extremely popular, which only further muddied the waters.
As time went on, artists used the idea of a siren to symbolize lust, and the supposed dangers of female sexuality. But honestly, the two mythical creatures shouldn't be confused: One is a bird and the other is a fish.
The issue is not helped by the fact that, in many Romance languages, sirens and mermaids are referred to by the same word, typically a derivative of the Latin Serena. An overall blue color scheme, a seashell charm on her choker, her attack, Galactic Tsunami, is water based.
In Puebla Magi Madonna Magic, the witch Octavia von Seckendorff is an Eldritch Abomination resembling a weird cross between a mermaid and an orchestra conductor. Rosario + Vampire : Averted, as Mermaids and Sirens are completely different monsters.
The mermaids also never sing (they instead suck the life energy of people), while the Sirens do and from what we see can see from their true form, they are birdlike, resembling angels. Their similar counterpart are the Battle Sirens from the Aqua Force clan, which are mermaids and uses their voices for various effects, from attacking to boosting their soldiers.
Has Deep Sea Diva, a mermaid with a heavy musical motif that can summon other monsters to it from the deck like a siren. Most Disney heroines do, but here it's actually a plot point, since the Big Bad's price for changing her into a human is her beautiful voice.
Used in a more direct fashion when Ursula transforms herself into a human woman and uses Ariel's voice to cast a spell on Eric, hypnotizing him. In Ice Age 4: Continental Drift, sirens appear as amphibious lungfish, the prehistoric equivalent of mermaids.
In My Little Pony: Equestrian Girls Rainbow Rocks, the Dazzling' original Siren forms resemble hippocampus or seahorses. In Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, mermaids also have beautiful singing voice and lure men to death.
In the Anita Blake series, sirens are described as super-powerful mermaids, able to control even their own kind with the power of their voices. Island of the Aunts : Parodied: a mermaid tried to make money by causing a ship to sink, enchanting the captain with her hypnotizing singing voice.
Sadly, the times had changed and, instead of gold and treasures, the ship she caused to sink had oil on board. Anti : In The Source of Magic, the Siren is a mermaid with a voice that lures all men who hear it to her.
In Magic By The Lake, by Edgar Edgar, the children go on an adventure with a mermaid who “sings down a ship.” There's also a quirk to their music: outside of water, people's voices are loud, unpleasant screeching that humans can only understand if they've learned it as a separate language (Perish).
There's also a variant: the Scottish merfolk in Goblet of Fire are called sulkies, ” which are likewise a different creature in actual mythology. In a variation on the usual presentation, they're actually friendly and sing to get their pet sea serpent to save boats from being dashed on the rocks.
Dream Girl : The mermaid Fine seduces rapists and murderers by sneaking into their rooms at night and singing to them (basically hypnotizing them), then “accidentally” bumping into them on the street and causing them to fall in love with her and her quirky ways. Into the Drowning Deep : Mermaids are capable of perfectly mimicking any sound they hear, such as whale song and human speech, in order to lure prey in.
In HO: Just Add Water Cleo has a reaction to the full moon's reflection and gains a singing voice that is able to hypnotize all the boys in town. Lewis explains that “she's a Siren, just like the mermaids in mythology whose singing lured sailors to their deaths”.
A siren shows up in the episode What Happened to Frederick, appearing as a beautiful shape shifting lady in a lake. However, mermaids do have alluring singing voices, and at least one is encouraged by her father to lure ships onto rocks.
According to some stories, they could take on human form and live on land for a while, but eventually they would want to return to the sea, and so would ultimately move the family back home. The Serena of the Philippines appear to be directly inspired by this trope, being mermaid-like creatures who sing lovely songs to lure people to their watery graves.
They have a few cousins, however, including the Smokey (a male variant that looks more like a resident of Inns mouth than a merman) and the Mambubuno (a two-tailed person which comes in male and female variants, lives in caves and prefers to put its prey in a trance as its “spouse” over killing them). Fathom : The mermaids don't do any singing, but they definitely take sadistic glee in leading divers to their watery doom.
In Dungeons & Dragons, sirens are aquatic creatures with an enchanting song, a humanoid torso and the tail of a shark or serpentine fish. Pathfinder, on the other hand, goes back to mythology and makes its sirens woman-headed birds and well-distinct from the setting's mermaids.
In Rifts, the Siren is a creation of the Lord of the Deep, and can have the lower half or either a fish or a sea lion. Shakespeare : In A Midsummer Night's Dream, Oberon's story of the magic flower for the love potion includes a mermaid's beautiful singing, though she calms the sea rather than allures anyone to death.
The Comedy of Errors alludes to this trope with the line “I'll stop mine ears against the mermaid's song.” Luminous Arc 3 : Lulu's job class is Siren, but also bears a lot of traits similar to mermaids.
The Legend of Zelda : In a little of Fridge Brilliance, the Zora (read: merfolk-like fish people) evolve over time into the Rico (bird folk). Media, one of the main Rico in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Water, even plays a harp, though luckily not to coerce anyone to their doom.
Castlemaine : Averted; the Siren is a Palette Swap of the Harpy enemy, making them birdlike. Defense of the Ancients includes a Siren hero whose ultimate spell is to sing the opposition to sleep and whose character model is a mermaid.
The Final Fantasy series averts this, with Siren being an uncommonly recurring character (often a summon) that usually just resembles a beautiful woman. Pokémon Sun and Moon : Primarily, Polio's final evolution, is referred to as a sea lion and a mermaid, but also has the distinctive singing feature of sirens.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt : Sirens (and their stronger kin, the Lamas and Echidna) appear this way... at least at a distance. In fact, their beautiful female upper bodies are a means of luring prey (read, unwary sailors) along with their voices.
They play with this, since they have the general body shape of a mermaid and are clearly trying to evoke that image, but are actually aquatic Snake People. Battle for Zeroth somewhat confusingly introduced actual sirens as a separate creature, which lure men to their death with their singing.
Here they have birdlike wings for arms but a fishtail, combining the two popular depictions into one Composite Character. A Vagrant, by Kate Beaten, a mermaid aims to drown a sailor with her frilly singing'.
Amphitrite is pretty much a mermaid (and in side art, she's drew with a fishtail, to boot) but she's actually deaf tone and a horrible singer. In The Dragon Wars Saga, the chief songstress of the merfolk clan encountered early on is named Siren and the mermaids have command of some kind of vocal music.
Averted in this creepy pasta where the protagonist is a young girl who dreams about being a beautiful mermaid, but is actually a monstrous siren. Elena of Avalon : The Sirens, a race of mermaids who charm sailors and sink ships with their song.
The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack : Coincidence or not, the mermaid queen reincarnates into a flying version called a “sky maid”, becoming more like a siren. American Dragon: Jake Long : Averted, as both mermaids and sirens are present and are quite different from one another.
Family Guy : In one episode, Peter remembers how he lured sailors to their death with his siren song... dressed as a mermaid. My Little Pony 'n Friends : “Rescue At Midnight Castle” features the Sea ponies, the first characters to get a song.
It's very reminiscent of a Busby Berkeley Number, and they would always appear singing a chord of “shoo be dew” in the remainder of the episodes. The sirens are just random girls dancing to “Crazy Bus,” a song that D.W. became obsessed with in an earlier episode.
There is a congenital deformity called Sirenomelia, in which the legs are fused together like a mermaid's, and parts of the urinary, lower digestive, and reproductive systems fail to develop properly. The Starbucks coffee house chain uses a half-woman, half-fish creature for their logo and mascot, which they say is a Siren rather than a mermaid due to the tails.