The Sirens in Homer
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This study of charm begins with the Sirens that tempt Odysseus with their irresistible singing. Homer’s Greek did not include “charm,” yet that word appears in most English renderings of their bewitching song: we encounter “clear voiced song,” “honeysweet sound,” “voice of the wondrous Sirens,” and “haunting song.” In Pope’s version of 1726, the Sirens are “sweet charmers,” and in his translation, the word charm in one sense or another occurs 56 times. Homer’s Sirens are the archetype of Marlene Dietrich’s Lola Lola and of all enchanting women whose song or looks lures men to their ruin. In Genesis, Eve too is a charmer. Like Homer’s Sirens, she coaxes him, and promising desirable knowledge, and, because of her persuasions, the human race is cursed with mortality.