Odysseus And The Sirens Analysis

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Damsels in Distress
The Odyssey is an epic that describes many of the beliefs of the ancient Greeks.
One of the myths that is mentioned in it is the story of Odysseus and the Sirens. In the myth, Odysseus and his men sail near where the Sirens live. The Sirens attempt to lure the men to their deaths with her song, but Odysseus has his men plug their ears and tie him to the mast so he can hear the song. They resist the song and escape with their lives. An artist and a writer take this story and describe it as an image of temptation, weakness, and strength. In the painting Ulysses and the Sirens, John William Waterhouse uses the image of the Sirens attempting to lure the men to show that people need to recognize weakness and find ways to be
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In his painting titled Ulysses and the Sirens, he depicts the scene of Odysseus tied to the mast of his ship, trying to withstand the temptation of the song of the Sirens. The painting is very detailed. When looking at it, you can almost smell the salt air and feel the wind on the ocean as you see Odysseus straining against the ropes that keep him tied down. Waterhouse does not paint the Sirens as women, but as creatures with beautiful faces and bodies like large birds. Unlike Margaret Atwood’s interpretation of the Sirens, he does not see them as strong women who are in need of being rescued. He shows them as sinister creatures who are determined to destroy any man who gets in their way. The artist is inspired by the original Greek mythology and shows Odysseus as one recognizes his weakness and with god-like strength in his successful attempt to stand against the temptation of Siren…show more content…
Two people took a creative look at the story. There are some similarities in their interpretations, but also some differences. In Margaret Atwood’s poem, she gives a first-person account of the story from the Siren’s point of view. She portrays the Sirens not as temptresses, but as victims of bad circumstances. The Sirens are waiting for the god-like hero to come along to save them. They recognize the power they have over men, but also their weakness in that they need one to save them. This appeals to Odysseus’ ego and he risks death to show off his strength. In Atwood’s poem, Odysseus is not seen as strong because he restrains himself against temptation; he is seen as weak because he fails to save the Sirens. John William Waterhouse also recognizes the powerful temptation of the Siren song, but he sees the Sirens as manipulative and evil, and paints them to look that way. The only strength he shows in them is in their menacing appearance and the force of the temptation they are putting on the men in the ship. His portrayal of Odysseus is different than the one of Atwood. He shows Odysseus like a god, recognizing his weakness and being able to stand strong in the face of temptation. Waterhouse displays Odysseus resisting the strain of temptation as a sign of manliness, the opposite of Atwood’s interpretation of
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