In Pietro Pucci's Song of the Sirens essay collection, he mentions in passing that the Sirens are "the muses of Hades" (chapter 9, page 132). As far as I can tell, there's no further explanation or elaboration, just a mention in passing while discussing Odysseus's reliability as narrator.

Pucci seems reputable, so I imagine this comes from some genuine ancient source, but I've never heard it before. Does anyone know of an ancient author calling the Sirens "the muses of Hades" or anything along those lines?

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    Maybe it's more metaphorical, because the Sirens lead men to their death (which bring them to Hades's domain). I suppose you could always try emailing Pucci if nobody here is forthcoming with a definite answer. (If you google his name, you can find his email on his profile page on the Cornell University website)
    – towr
    Apr 19, 2022 at 5:40

1 Answer 1


It's a tiny mistranslation. The Latin actually reads "in orbe (earth)". Hades is the underworld.

According to Ovid (“Metamorphoses” V, 551),the sirens were formerly handmaidens of Persephone, who at one point gets abducted by Hades.

Demeter then gives the sirens the bodies of birds, and sent them to the lower world (earth) to assist in the search of her daughter Persephone.

an quia, cum legeret vernos Proserpina flores, in comitum numero, doctae Sirenes, eratis?
quam postquam toto frustra quaesistis in orbe, protinus, et vestram sentirent aequora curam, posse super fluctus alarum insistere remis optastis facilesque deos habuistis et artus vidistis vestros subitis flavescere pennis.

But why have you, Sirens, skilled in song, daughters of Acheloüs, the feathers and claws of birds, while still bearing human faces? Is it because you were numbered among the companions, when Proserpine gathered the flowers of Spring? When you had searched in vain for her on land, you wanted, then, to cross the waves on beating wings, so that the waters would also know of your trouble.

They eventually gave up and settled on the flowery island of Anthemoessa.

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    I've not read Pucci, so I'm a bit confused, but is he translating Ovid here? Is it direct or inferred?
    – cmw
    May 30, 2022 at 19:51

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