Sirens are a type of sea creatures from Greek Mythology akin to the mermaids? However, unlike the relatively harmless merfolk, sirens were often depicted as deadly temptresses who would lure sailors towards rocky shores via their hypnotic singing, causing the sailors to crash into the rocky coast of their island, meeting a watery demise.
Believed to have actually stemmed from mermaids, Sirens were first documented in Greek mythology. Verified Greek texts and stories the number of Sirens, official daughters of Greek figures, between two to five, but one has claimed seven. However, early Greek renditions portrayed Sirens as half-woman, half-bird, rather than the mermaid look we know today. Portrayals include women with legs that of birds, and either did or did not have wings and musical instruments. Birds were chosen because of their voices, becuase Sirens could seduce men with their voices. It wasn't until later that Sirens were depicted as also having seductive bodies.
It is unknown at which point, at which century or millennium, had Sirens started to be more portrayed as mermaid-like, or when that variation had overtaken the bird-like portrayals in terms of popularity or mentions in books and other literature.
Difference with Mermaids
Modern times now portray Sirens as almost identical to mermaids - beautiful creatures with the bare upper bodies of human women but also with the scaly tails of a fish.
Although in some cases mischievous, most stories depict mermaids as benevolent, bestowing creatures with pure hearts. Others portray mermaids as perilous creatures associated with floods, storms, shipwrecks, and drowning. These portrayals start the stories of Sirens.
The main difference between mermaids and Sirens is that the latter are predators and killers. Seducing men with their voices and bodies, many writers in the last century have stated that Sirens would viciously kill these men in their sleep.
Powers and Abilities
- In his notebooks, legendary artist Leonardo da Vinci wrote of the Siren, "The siren sings so sweetly that she lulls the mariners to sleep; then she climbs upon the ships and kills the sleeping mariners