Mythology - The Sirens, Reinterpreted

by Erin on July 31, 2012

One of the things I find most appealing about mythology is how characters are transformed over the centuries by countless artists, writers, poets, and storytellers. The story of the Sirens is just a single example of mythological “monsters” who have been reinterpreted since they appeared in the myth and art of the ancient Greeks.

A contemporary interpretation of the Sirens appears in Catherynne M. Valente’s book The Orphan’s Tales: In the Cities of Coin and Spice. In the chapter “The Tale on the Floor, Continued”, we learn how - and why - the three Sirens who appear in that book switched from singing their stories to dancing them :

“You sing, and we hear. We hear everything we long for. Do you know how many of us have died diving into the the brine after your voices?”

Nyd’s beak began to quiver. She tried not to cry. “That’s ridiculous,” Ashni said, stamping her bare foot. “We sing to each other. Every creature is allowed to sing. The songs were not for you. We did not go fishing for sailors, dropping our voices into the sea like barbed hooks. We push out our hearts and blood and marrow and breath - ”

“You dash out our hearts and blood and marrow and breath on these desolate rocks, and no one survives your song,” the navigator whispered.

“But we did not mean to. We did not intend it. Our songs were for us alone,” Ghadir said, her face ashen.

Nyd fell to her knees, and her sobbing echoed over the shoals. She laid her feathered head on the rocks and cried over and over: “I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”

Quoted from The Orphan’s Tales: In the Cities of Coin and Spice by Catherynne M. Valente.

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