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ca - 200 BC __ « Epitome » — Sirens
Apollodorus (ca 1st or 2nd century BC)
Comment : As to the return of Ulysses to the isle of Circe, and his sailing past the Sirens, see Hom. Od. 12.1-200; Hyginus, Fab. 125. Homer does not name the Sirens individually nor mention their parentage, but by using the dual in reference to them (Hom. Od. 12.52; Hom. Od. 12.167) he indicates that they were two in number. Sophocles, in his play Ulysses, called the Sirens daughters of Phorcus, and agreed with Homer in recognizing only two of them. See Plut. Quaest. Conviv. ix.14.6; The Fragments of Sophocles, ed. A. C. Pearson, iii.66, frag. 861. Apollonius Rhodius says that the Muse Terpsichore bore the Sirens to Achelous (Ap. Rhod., Argon. iv.895ff.). Hyginus names four of them, Teles, Raidne, Molpe, and Thelxiope (Hyginus, Fab. praefat. p. 30, ed. Bunte), and, in agreement with Apollodorus, says that they were the offspring of Achelous by the Muse Melpomene. Tzetzes calls them Parthenope, Leucosia, and Ligia, but adds that other people named them Pisinoe, Aglaope, and Thelxiepia, and that they were the children of Achelous and Terpsichore. With regard to the parts which they took in the bewitching concert, he agrees with Apollodorus. See Tzetzes, Scholiast on Lycophron 712. According to a Scholiast on Ap. Rhod., Argon.iv.892, their names were Thelxiope, or Thelxione, Molpe, and Aglaophonus. As to their names and parents see also Eustathius on Hom. Od. 12. p. 1709, Scholiast on Hom. Od. xii.39, who mention the view that the father of the Sirens was Achelous, and that their mother was either the Muse Terpsichore, or Sterope, daughter of Porthaon. Similarly Apollonius Rhodius (Ap. Rhod., Argon. iv.898ff.) describes the Sirens as partly virgins and partly birds. Aelian tells us (Ael., Nat. Anim. xvii.23) that poets and painters represented them as winged maidens with the feet of birds. Ovid says that the Sirens had the feet and feathers of birds, but the faces of virgins; and he asks why these daughters of Achelous, as he calls them, had this hybrid form. Perhaps, he thinks, it was because they had been playing with Persephone when gloomy Dis carried her off, and they had begged the gods to grant them wings, that they might search for their lost playmate over seas as well as land. See Ov. Met. 5.552-562. In like manner Hyginus describes the Sirens as women above and fowls below, but he says that their wings and feathers were a punishment inflicted on them by Demeter for not rescuing Persephone from the clutches of Pluto. See Hyginus, Fab. 125, 141. Another story was that they were maidens whom Aphrodite turned into birds because they chose to remain unmarried. See Eustathius on Hom. Od. 12.47, p. 1709. It is said that they once vied with the Muses in singing, and that the Muses, being victorious, plucked off the Siren's feathers and made crowns out of them for themselves (Paus. 9.34.3). In ancient art, as in literature, the Sirens are commonly represented as women above and birds below. See Miss J. E. Harrison, Myths of the Odyssey (London, 1882), pp. 146ff. Homer says nothing as to the semi-bird shape of the Sirens, thus leaving us to infer that they were purely human. Others said that the Sirens cast themselves into the sea and were drowned from sheer vexation at the escape of Ulysses. See Scholiast on Hom. Od. xii.39; Eustathius on Hom. Od. 12.167, p. 1709; Tzetzes, Scholiast on Lycophron 712; compare Strab. 6.1.1. (NOTES ON THE EPITOME OF THE LIBRARY OF APOLLODORUS BY J. G. FRAZER)
Original excerpt 1 : « [E.7.18] And having come to Circe he was sent on his way by her, and put to sea, and sailed past the isle of the Sirens. Now the Sirens were Pisinoe, Aglaope, and Thelxiepia, daughters of Achelous and Melpomene, one of the Muses. One of them played the lyre, another sang, and another played the flute, and by these means they were fain to persuade passing mariners to linger;.[E.7.19] and from the thighs they had the forms of birds. Sailing by them, Ulysses wished to hear their song, so by Circe's advice he stopped the ears of his comrades with wax, and ordered that he should himself be bound to the mast. And being persuaded by the Sirens to linger, he begged to be released, but they bound him the more, and so he sailed past. Now it was predicted of the Sirens that they should themselves die when a ship should pass them; so die they did. » (Trans. by J.G. Frazer)
Original excerpt 2 : « VII, 18. Il revint auprès de Circé, puis il mit à la voile, cap sur l'île des Sirènes. Filles d'Achéloos et d'une des Muses, Melpomène, les Sirènes s'appelaient Pisinoé, Aglaopé, Thelxiepia. L'une jouait de la lyre, une autre chantait, et l'autre jouait de la flûte ; grâce à quoi elles persuadaient les navigateurs de s'arrêter. De la taille aux pieds, elles avaient l'aspect d'oiseaux.VII, 19. Quand il passa devant elles, Ulysse voulut entendre leur chant ; suivant le conseil de Circé, il boucha les oreilles de ses compagnons avec de la cire, après quoi, il se fit attacher au mât. Comme le chant des Sirènes le persuadait de s'arrêter, il supplia ses compagnons de le détacher ; mais ils resserrèrent ses liens, et ainsi il put poursuivre sa route. Une prophétie disait que les Sirènes mourraient si un navire passaient devant elles sans s'arrêter ; de fait, elles périrent. » (Apollodore, “Epitomé”. VII, 18-19)
Source : Apollodorus (ca -200 BC). "The Library Epitome". Trans. by Sir James George Frazer, in 2 volumes. Cambridge MA : Harvard University Press; London : William Heinemann Ltd. 1921.
Urls : http://ugo.bratelli.free.fr/Apollodore/Epitome/Epitome_Complet.htm (last visited ) http://www.theoi.com/Text/ApollodorusE.html (last visited )

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