|Odysseus escapes the sirens, as depicted on a Greek pot.|
A Siren is a large bird with the head and torso of a beautiful woman. Their enchanting songs make any men who hear it enraptured by them. They dwell on the Sirenusian islands, off the coast of Italy, and sing to passing ships. The sailors normally become so delighted by the music, that they sail straight for the Sirenusian islands and crash on the treacherous rocks that surround them.
As written in the Iliad, Odysseus, who had been warned of the Sirens' danger by the goddess Circe, had his sailors stuff their ears with beeswax while passing the islands. Odysseus himself wanted to hear the song and so left his ears unpluged, but had his sailors tie him to the ship's mast. When he heard it, he struggled furiously against his restraints while yelling for his men to release him. He came to his senses once the Sirens went out of earshot.