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Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [K6v p156]

Las Sirenas.


Sin plumas aves, sin piernas donzellas.
Y sin ozico peçes y sonoras
Quien pensaria en la natura avellas?
Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [K7r p157] Cosas contrarias son en todas horas,
Y que naturaleza no consiente,
Mas tales son las Sirenas cantoras.[1]
Atrae la muger, y en accidente
Muy triste acava, como en negro peçe,
Que monstros haze aquel inconveniente.
El cantar, el mirar nos adormeçe
De Parthenope, Leucosia y Ligia,[2]
A quien la Musa pela y las empeçe.[3]
Ulysses pasa por su niñeria
Y burla de ellas como hombre entendido
A quien no ha de mover la burleria
Que solo aplaçe a’l exterior sentido.[4]


1.  The Sirens, creatures that lured passing sailors to destruction with their entrancing song, are described in Ovid, Metamorphoses, 5.552ff. as having the faces of girls and the wings and feet of birds. The fish-tail seems to be added from the description of Scylla, Vergil, Aeneid, 3.427. The ‘woman ending in a black fish’ echoes Horace, Ars Poetica, ‘ut...atrum desinat in piscem mulier’, indicating an incongruous juxtaposition.

2.  Various names for the Sirens are recorded. The ones given here mean ‘Maidenface’, ‘Bright’, ‘Sweet sounding’. The Sirens represent snares and temptation.

3.  The Sirens were defeated in a contest with the Muses and stripped of their wings. See Pausanias, Periegesis, 9.34.2. The Muses represent learning.

4.  See Homer, Odyssey, 12.39ff. and 165ff. for Ulysses’ escape from the Sirens. After this the Sirens killed themselves. Ulysses becomes the type of the wise man who escapes temptation through self-control.

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