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Classically Inspired: Sirens

February 13th, 2018

{photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash}

"The plot lines, and the stock characters, of our contemporary movies, novels, plays and television shows come from the ancient tales, and primarily from two sources: the Bible or Greek Mythology.  (I'm not equating the two except as literary sources.)  We just change the names of the characters, and instead of riding around in chariots, now they drive Chevys or Toyotas -- or if it's George Lucas, it's a star ship.  But what happens in the story is essentially the same thing as in the old stories."

~ Jim Weiss

Ready for a fun activity you can do with your kids while you read literature together? You may recall that when Jim Weiss visited our school and spoke to our community at the Myths and Mysteries event, he made the observation quoted above. In our recent readings of The Wanderings of Odysseus, some of our families have been having fun noticing instances where this is true! Here’s one example:

Ulysses and the Sirens by John William Waterhouse
{Public domain image via Wikimedia Commons}

“And from the island drifted the sound of women’s voices singing: a sound so faint that it was only on the edge of hearing, but so sweet that it seemed to draw the hearers like a silken thread. But Odysseus knew, for Circe had warned him, that these were the Sirens, who sit among their flowers and sing to seamen whose ships pass by; but the flowers and the long grasses hide the bones of men who have answered their call and died of their sweet strange singing that carries the soul away.”

~ Rosemary Sutcliffe, The Wanderings of Odysseus

Here are those Sirens in another form:


Or in The Pirates of the Caribbean (the very end of this scene - as well as the photo here - might be scary for young children):


Can you think of any other examples of books, movies, or elements of stories that are “classically inspired” by the ancient tales? As you read with your kids (or remember past readings), see if any come to mind. Write to Down Home ( telling us about the connection you found so we can post it on the blog – let’s see how many our kids can discover!

This “game” can carry on through the years as we read great literature and continue to find links between storylines across the ages.


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