John William Waterhouse, Ulysses and the Sirens, 1891

In The Odyssey Homer writes that Ulysses was warned by the goddess Circe that he will pass through the Strait of Messina and that he must take care that the Sirens do not enchant him, for “anyone who hears their song is bewitched by its sweetness, and they are drawn to that island like iron to a magnet. And their ship smashes upon rocks as sharp as spears. And those sailors join the many victims of the Sirens in a meadow filled with skeletons.”
Ulysses heeds Circe’s warning and plugs his crew’s ears with wax so that they may not hear the sweet song, but lashes himself to the mast so that he may have the pleasure of listening without endangering his ship.

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