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Myth of Sirens in Ancient Greece: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Andrea Miller

Andrea is currently a social studies middle school teacher in Ohio. She has a BA in history as well as a MEd in education. She has taught workshops including OGT Success and Writing for Life. Andrea has also been a middle school debate team coach for several years.

Greek mythology is a rich collection of interesting and lively stories. In this lesson you will learn about the Sirens, who were bird-woman creatures, and how they sang sweet songs to trap their victims.

The Myth of the Sirens

Out in the middle of the sea, the waves are crashing against your boat. The sea air smells of salt and the sun is setting against the waves. All of the sudden you hear a beautiful song, like angels singing in the distance. The song is so amazing and it reminds you of home. Without realizing it, your boat is drifting towards the music….

According to Greek mythology, this song would be the call of the Sirens. Mythology is a collection of stories that all come together to describe a culture or religion. The ancient Greeks had many myths, or stories, that they told throughout their history. One of these stories was the story of the Sirens.

The Sirens were said to be deadly, part bird and part woman creatures that would call their victims to them with a sweet song. Sirens would sing to passing ships, putting the sailors on board into a trance. The sweet music would be so lovely that the sailors would be unable to avoid it. The Sirens would call them toward a cluster of rocks or other possible dangers. The Sirens would cause the sailors to crash and sink their ships.

The Sirens were dangerous to ships at sea
Vase with Sirens

Their Transformation

As the story goes, the Sirens were once the friends of a goddess named Persephone. In one version of the story Persephone was stolen and taken to the underworld. Hopeless and angry, Persephone's mother Demeter punished the Sirens. Demeter believed that the Sirens should have taken better care of her daughter. Demeter transformed the three women into creatures with the head of a woman but the body of a bird.

It is said that the Sirens began to live on a small cluster of rocks located in the water between the island of Sicily and Italy. According to legend, any ships that passed by the rocks could fall prey to the Sirens and their song.

In another version of the story, the Sirens were so upset that Persephone was gone they begged for wings so that they could fly in the skies to search for her.

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