Book Twelve

"At sea once more we had to pass the Sirens, whose sweet singing lures sailors to their doom. I had stopped up the ears of my crew with wax, and I alone listened while lashed to the mast, powerless to steer toward shipwreck.

Next came Charybdis, who swallows the sea in a whirlpool, then spits it up again. Avoiding this we skirted the cliff where Scylla exacts her toll. Each of her six slavering maws grabbed a sailor and wolfed him down.

Finally we were becalmed on the island of the Sun. My men disregarded all warnings and sacrificed his cattle, so back at sea Zeus sent a thunderbolt that smashed the ship. I alone survived, washing up on the island of Calypso."

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NOTES

Sirens (SYE-rinz) Although Homer describes the treacherous sweetness of their singing, he does not describe the physical appearance of the Sirens. Later writers visualized them in various combinations of woman and bird. One source also had them playing the lyre and flute in addition to singing. (back)


A Siren. (back)





Charybdis (kah-RIB-dis) (back)

Scylla (SILL-uh) Scylla and Charybdis have become proverbial as a choice between equally dreadful alternatives.(back)

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