The myth of the Sirens in Massa Lubrense

The myth of the Sirens in Massa Lubrense

If Massa Lubrense is called “Land of the Sirens” it is because right here the sirens tried to enchant Ulysses with their voice.

As evidenced by their presence in Homer’s Odyssey, sirens were creatures widely present in the collective imagination of Ancient Greece. However, their original appearance has not always been what we know today: in fact, originally the sirens were half-woman and half-bird and their nature was threatening and deceptive.

Islets Li Galli

According to legend, the mythological winged sirens lived between the Sorrento peninsula and the island of Capri. The mythical place of the sirens is represented by the islets “Li Galli”, “Sirenuse” for the ancients. From this derives the ancient toponym of “Sirenusion”, with which the area of Massa Lubrense was indicated.

The bewitching song of the sirens attracted the passing sailors, who then approached the rocky coast with their ships, crashing against it: the sailors drowned and the sirens devoured their bodies.

Ulysses, on the return journey from Troy to Ithaca, also plowed these waters, but, following Circe’s advice, ordered his men to plug their ears with wax; he had himself tied to a ship’s mast and forbade his companions to untie him, whatever pleading he had made to them.

“Come hither, as thou farest, renowned Odysseus, great glory of the Achaeans; [185] stay thy ship that thou mayest listen to the voice of us two. For never yet has any man rowed past this isle in his black ship until he has heard the sweet voice from our lips. Nay, he has joy of it, and goes his way a wiser man.”

Omero, Odyssey.

The story goes that the sirens, annoyed by their failure, threw themselves into the sea and their bodies were transported by the waves: one to Terina (Ligeia), one to Punta Licosa (Leukosia) and the other to Naples (Parthenope).

Chalcidian amphora depicting the winged siren. Coming from the necropolis of S. Agata sui due Golfi and kept in the Georges Vallet Museum in Piano di Sorrento.

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