Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)

In Greek Mythology, chimerical Bird-women who lived on the Island of Anthemusa, luring sailors to their doom by means of seductive singing. Orpheus saved the Argo's crew by drowning out their song; Odysseus's crew filled their ears with wax while he was securely bound to the mast; after this latter failure the sirens drowned themselves. The Lorelei of the Rhine is a transplanted siren, and Mermaids (occasionally called sirens) are sometimes credited with similar proclivities. The sirens are an Archetype of the Femme Fatale, and are featured in such roles in "The Song of the Sirens" (1919) by Edward L White (1866-1934), E M Forster's "The Story of the Siren" (1928), Oliver Onions's "The Painted Face" (1929) and Lord Dunsany's sarcastic Jorkens tale "The Grecian Singer" (1940). F Anstey's "The Siren" (1884), contrariwise, is a sentimental tale of self-sacrificing Love. [BS]

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.