Most of us are familiar with the stories that have historically been told about Sirens – that they’re seductive but cruel beings who use their charms to lure innocent men to their deaths. But is that the full story? One famous Siren says no.
We had the opportunity to catch up with Calliope, often referred to as the Mother of Sirens and believed to be a Muse of Homer’s during the period in which he wrote The Iliad and The Odyssey. She paints a very different picture of what it means to be a siren.
NERDY SARAH: Can you talk a little about what exactly a Siren does? Is it true that you lure sailors to their deaths, drawing them to your shores with your songs and leading them to crash on rocky coastlines?
CALLIOPE: Not at all. We just sing because we enjoy it. Because we’re essentially stranded on these abandoned, cold, god-awful shorelines and singing is one of the few pleasures we have access too. Typical, though, that men would make it all about them. Truly, we’ve been stereotyped by a patriarchal belief system. The shows, books, and movies literally never get it right.
NS: Ok, I understand that. But still, even if it’s unintentional, you’ve clearly driven quite a few men to distraction, so much so that they’ve crashed their ships repeatedly. Isn’t that enough to give you pause? To cause you to consider the ramifications of what you’re doing?
C: Look, these men have professional training. They know how to sail a ship through a thunderstorm. They know how to keep their crews alive with only the limited resources they have on board. But a mere song is enough to distract them to the point where they’re suddenly incapable of doing something they’ve trained for years to do? And the fact that they can’t keep their minds on their jobs is somehow my fault and I should be the one to have to change my life? Next thing you’ll tell me I can’t wear leggings or tank tops, either.
NS: If it’s not true that you’ve lured these men to their deaths, what’s the real story?
C: The real story is that they invaded our waters. From time to time we’ve had to defend ourselves, but we never intentionally sought to kill anyone. Of course, no one wants to listen to what we have to say, though. They’re more concerned about preserving the reputations of these “promising, young adventurers.”
Clearly, there’s more than one side to this story, and it seems the Sirens are ready to present theirs. As of publication, Calliope was reportedly planning a benefit concert at Madison Square Garden, the proceeds of which will go to Mythological Creatures Without Borders, a non-profit organization that supports mythical beings whose ways of life have been negatively impacted by the spread of human culture.
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