Odyssey and Siren

Topics: Homer, Odyssey, Achilles Pages: 2 (523 words) Published: May 16, 2013
The elusive and manipulative Sirens of Homer's Odyssey are the focus of Margaret Atwood's poem "Siren Song", though the latter is told instead from the Siren's point of view. Through this new point of view, one is able to compare the portrayals of Sirens based on Odysseus' account as well as a Siren's herself. Additionally, the feigned blasé tone of Atwood's poem adds a comical element that humanizes a being viewed only as a monster in the Odyssey. In Homer's Odyssey, Sirens are portrayed as conniving, ruthless creatures whose bloodlust leads them to prey upon each vessel that passes. They use their song to lure men in, crooning compliments at them along the likes of: "famous Odysseus—Archea's pride and glory!" (Homer 14). Odysseus' men are forced to restrain him so that he does not fall victim to the Sirens, and Odysseus even puts beeswax in his crew men's ears so that their are not distracted. The Sirens are seen as a great danger, one that could easily bring destruction on even the paramount and bravest men. When exposed to their "ravishing voices", Odysseus feels that "the heart inside [him] throbbed to listen longer" (Homer 19-20). He prepares himself and his crew for this encounter with the Sirens, making absolutely sure that they will not reap devastation upon his voyage. In Homer's example, Sirens are a danger that Odysseus, in this case a representative of mankind, is able to outwit and overpower. Contrastingly, in Margaret Atwood's poem, men are made out to be fools in the eyes of the Sirens. Homer's Sirens claim that a man who "hears [their song] to his heart's content sails on, a wiser man" (Homer 18) while the speaking Siren in Atwood's poem is very blunt in disclosing that the men who listen to their song do not return, for "anyone who has heard it / is dead" (Atwood 8-9). Atwood's Siren seems to mock men and their misplaced sense of entitlement, describing how simply hearing the Sirens' song causes men "to leap overboard in squadrons /...
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