Sirens and Mermaids --- Part of the SINFUL SIRENS BLOG HOP

Modern Siren - a femme fatale
You just KNEW I would find a paranormal side to the Sinful Sirens theme, didn't you?

In modern times we think of sirens as glamorous women who captivate men with their beauty, or deliberately lure and entice them into forgetting their own better judgement. Sirens might be innocent of the hearts they break but, more often, they are seductive temptresses who delight in using men for their own selfish purposes.

We get the term "siren" from good old Greek mythology, and from many stories in Greek literature. The Sirens were a group of women who were once handmaidens to Persephone. After she was kidnapped and taken to the underworld to marry the dark god Hades, Persephone's handmaidens were blamed for allowing this to happen to their mistress by her mother, the goddess Demeter.

The Mermaid
by John Waterhouse
Demeter marooned the hapless women on a beautiful island somewhere between Sicily and Italy, surrounded by treacherous rocks. Any ship that ventured too close to the island would be wrecked. Rescue was impossible.

However, merely banishing the women wasn't enough for the vengeful goddess. The women were changed into strange half-human creatures. Still alluringly beautiful, they often had bird's wings and feet, or in many versions of the story, they became the first mermaids.

In addition to their exotic appearance, Demeter (who obviously should have attended anger management classses) gave the women unearthly voices and commanded them to sing. Sailors in passing ships would hear the sirens' song, and steer the ship onto the rocks, or dive from the deck into the sea and drown.

Any man that managed to survive the ocean and the rocks would make his way to the beautiful island, but find it far from a paradise. So enchanted were they by the siren's songs that they would follow the women wherever they went --- forgetting everything else in the world. The hapless sailor would even forget to eat and eventually starve to death! In some accounts, the women ate the sailors, and the island became covered with bleached bones. From these, the Sirens were said to make their musical instruments!

Ulysses and the Sirens by Herbert James Draper
Over the centuries, the Sirens were embittered by their unfair fate and began to take great pleasure in their cruel task of luring men to their doom. The stories tell that they would often sing passing sailors into a deep sleep. The sirens would then board the ship and kill all the men as they slept, feasting on them for days afterward and tossing their gnawed bones into the ocean!

One of the few men to hear the song of the Sirens and live to tell about it was Odysseus (also known as Ulysses). He filled the ears of his men with wax and bound their heads with cloth, so that they would be able to row directly past the deadly island yet be unaffected by the music. Odysseus himself, however, had not plugged his ears. Instead, he had his men tie him to the mast, so he could hear the alluring songs and see the beautiful women, but not be able to jump overboard or steer the ship into danger.

Predatory Mermaids from Pirates of the
Caribbean, On Stranger Tides
Demeter's magic had provided for the Sirens to live forever --- but only until the day came that a mortal was able to resist their song. After Odysseus's successful plan, the Sirens were said to have flung themselves into the sea and drowned.

Ever since, maritime superstition claimed that hearing the song of a mermaid is a sign of a particularly ferocious storm approaching, or even spelled certain disaster for the ship.

Strangely, despite cautionary tales of dangerous sirens and mermaids, it was also thought that the sight of a woman's naked bosom could settle an angry ocean. (Of course, all sailors were men at the time...) By the nineteenth century, most ships featured an amply-endowed female figurehead on the bow, breasts fully exposed to the salt sea air!

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SINFUL SIRENS 
BLOG HOP

Hosted by Guilty Pleasures and Under the Covers
The hop runs from 12:01 AM on May 15th through to 11:59 PM on May 20th, 2013.

Over 150 bloggers are participating --- that means LOTS OF GIVEAWAYS TO ENTER!

DANI'S GIVEAWAY is now CLOSED

CONGRATULATIONS 
TO KRISTA RAVEN
Her name was drawn from the big blue mixing bowl (the dog ate my pink one) as the winner of the drawing. She'll be receiving the following goodies:

In keeping with the seagoing siren theme, my prize is a DVD of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (not only do you get to enjoy Johnny Depp, but this  movie features some downright dangerous mermaids!). Also, I'm including a copy of Shana Abe's "The Last Mermaid", described as "three hauntingly beautiful tales connected by a legend, a locket, and a love beyond time". 

Giveaway is International.

Thanks to everyone for reading my post and commenting (I found out about some new books from you!) I hope you enjoyed the rest of the hop too! The Linky List of participating blogs is below if you want to check on their winners as well.





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