A Medieval Siren

c.1250 - 1300

A medieval siren


  • Intro

    This manuscript includes an illustration of an ancient mythical creature known as a siren. Sirens were said to have the upper body of a human and the lower body of a bird or fish (or even a combination of the two). They sang beautiful songs to lull sailors to sleep, then once asleep they attacked and killed them. The moral: those who allow themselves to become lost in worldly pleasures will be vulnerable to evil forces.


    The page is from a bestiary, a book that features descriptions of a range of animals, from ordinary creatures such as goats and bees to fantastical beasts including griffins, mermaids and unicorns. In most bestiaries, these animals are interpreted in relation to Christian morality: the creatures themselves were not as important as the moral truths revealed in their explanation.


    Shelfmark: Sloane 278 f.47

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