The Official Collection of Fantastical Creature Information--Updated Randomly

For all your fantastical creature needs! This is the beginning of my encyclopedia, and I'm collecting as much information as I can on various fantasy creatures. Most of my stuff can be found on wikipedia. However, no source is perfect, so the stuff that is my input is often italicized. Help me by sending me more information at Questkid13@gmail.com

Side Note: There have been concerns about my using Wikipedia because it is not a reliable resource. I am well aware of wikipedia's unreliable nature--but that's exactly why I use it. Fantasy creatures are available to all, and everyone should have a chance to add their "discoveries." This website is supposed to be a fun collection of fantastical creature information with fun images to go with. I am not a reliable source--I'm just a collector. Though at this point, I am flattered that people are concerned with the validity of my site. :)

!!!!This is NOT a forum. Comments are to be informative and generally helpful. Clean humor is acceptable, but NOT if it detracts from the entry. This site is to help people find out more about fantastical creatures!!!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Siren


Appearance
Sirens, at one point in history were often mistaken for harpies because of a winglike protrusion from their backs and their beautiful bird-like voices. However, Sirens are not, in any way, whatsoever, similiar to birds. They are creatures of the sea, not the air. Their "wings" are actually an extra set of fins similiar to the dorsal fin of a dolphin, though it is yet unknown why they evolved them. Sirens have the head of human and the tail of a fish, similiar to mermaids and Lorelei--and all three species are often mistaken for one another. Do not let this be the case with you! Remember--Mermaids are flirts and can charm men by merely showing off. Sirens have their song that they unwittingly lure men, but they cannot change their shape like Lorelei to ressemble human figures. Despite the inability to have legs, Sirens sometimes sun themselves on dry land, usually near a meadow of flowers or near a particularly beautiful view of some sort. Only on rare occasion does one ever accidentily beach herself--and sadly it is only the rare occasion that provides the myths of their dwelling on land or being creatures of the air because of their 'wings'.

History
The Sirens (Greek singular: Σειρήν Seirḗn; Greek plural: Σειρῆνες Seirênes) were three dangerous bird-women who were most likely harpies rather than sirens, portrayed as seductresses, who lived on an island called Sirenum scopuli. In some later, rationalized traditions the literal geography of the "flowery" island of Anthemoessa, or Anthemusa, is fixed: sometimes on Cape Pelorum at others in the Sirenusian islands near Paestum, or in Capreae. All locations were surrounded by cliffs and rocks. Seamen who sailed near were decoyed with the Sirens' enchanting music and voices to shipwreck on the rocky coast. Though they lured mariners, the sirens were not sea deities.

When the Sirens were given a parentage they were considered the daughters of the river god Achelous, fathered upon Terpsichore, Melpomene, Sterope, or Chthon, the Earth, in Euripides' Helen 167, where Helen in her anguish calls upon "Winged maidens, virgins, daughters of the Sea". Roman writers linked the sirens more closely to the sea, as daughters of Phorcys.

Sirens and death
According to Ovid they were the companions of young Persephone and were given wings by Demeter to search for Persephone when she was abducted. Their song is continually calling on Persephone. The term "siren song" refers to an appeal that is hard to resist but that, if heeded, will lead to a bad result. Later writers have inferred that the Sirens were anthropophagous, (cannibals) based on Circe's description of them "lolling there in their meadow, round them heaps of corpses rotting away, rags of skin shriveling on their bones". Jane Ellen Harrison notes "It is strange and beautiful that Homer should make the Sirens appeal to the spirit, not to the flesh" for the matter of the siren song is a promise to Odysseus of mantic truths, with a false promise of living to tell them, they sing,
once he hears to his heart's content, sails on, a wiser man.We know all the pains that the Greeks and Trojans once enduredon the spreading plain of Troy when the gods willed it so—all that comes to pass on the fertile earth, we know it all!

"They are mantic creatures like the Sphinx with whom they have much in common, knowing both the past and the future," Harrison observed. "Their song takes effect at midday, in a windless calm. The end of that song is death." That the sailor's flesh is rotting away, though, would suggest it has not been eaten. It has been suggested that, with their feathers stolen, their divine nature kept them alive, but unable to provide for their visitors, who starved to death by refusing to leave.

In 1917, Franz Kafka wrote in The Silence of the Sirens:
Now the Sirens have a still more fatal weapon than their song, namely their silence. And though admittedly such a thing never happened, it is still conceivable that someone might possibly have escaped from their singing; but from their silence certainly never.


Encounters with the Sirens

In Argonautica Jason had been warned by Chiron that Orpheus would be necessary in his journey. When Orpheus heard their voices, he drew out his lyre and played his music more beautifully than they, drowning out their voices. One of the crew, however, the sharp-eared hero Butes, heard the song and leapt into the sea, but he was caught up and carried safely away by the goddess Aphrodite.

Odysseus was curious as to what the Sirens sounded like, so, on Circe's advice, he had all his sailors plug their ears with beeswax and tie him to the mast. He ordered his men to leave him tied to the mast, no matter how much he would beg. When he heard their beautiful song, he ordered the sailors to untie him but they stuck to their orders (or they couldn't hear him). When they had passed out of earshot, Odysseus demonstrated with his frowns to be released.

In Christian thought
By the fourth century, when pagan beliefs gave way to Christianity, belief in literal sirens was discouraged. Although Jerome, who produced the Latin Vulgate version of the Scriptures, used the word "sirens" to translate Hebrew tenim (jackals) in Isaiah 13:22, and also to translate a word for "owls" in Jeremiah 50:39, this was explained by writers of Church doctrine such as Ambrose to be a mere symbol or allegory for worldly temptations, and not an endorsement of the Greek myth.

Sirens continued to be used as a symbol for temptation regularly throughout Christian art of the medieval era; however, in the 17th century, some Jesuit writers began to assert their actual existence, including Cornelius a Lapide, Antonio de Lorea, and Athanasius Kircher, who argued that compartments must have been built for them aboard Noah's Ark.

A special thanks to Wikipedia and to Aqualilia of Deviantart.com for this slightly stolen art.

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