Tag Archives: Ure Museum

Sirens

Post written for the Ure Discovery Blog: (and currently published on their facebook page)

38.8.48 – The Siren
(Kendrick School)

Black Figure Lekythos (dating from c. 550-525 BCE) depicting a Siren between two male figures, one of which is holding a spear

38.8.48

What Sort of Pot?

A lekythos (Greek: λήκυθος – Plural: Lekythoi) is a type of Greek pottery used for storing oil and perfume. It has a narrow neck and one handle. Many lekythoi are found in tombs and the images on the sides were often depictions of daily activities or rituals and especially those connected with death. Giant Lekythoi sometimes formed tomb markers.
This one was identified as being made in around 520 BC by Annie Ure.

What are Sirens?

In classical mythology the Sirens lured sailors to their deaths with their songs. They appear most famously in Homer’s Odyssey [Bk. XII] but also feature in Appollonius Rhodes’ Argonautica [4.891-919] and Ovid’s Metamorphoses [5.551 and following.]. Although modern artists often show Sirens in the shape of beautiful women the ancient Greeks painted them as half-human and half-bird with wings and talons or webbed feet and their distinctive shape makes them a recognisable type of decoration.
The Sirens were associated with music and death and are sometimes said to help make travelling to the underworld easier with their music. They are perhaps related to the Egyptian Ba [See Here].

One of the most famous images is from a vase in the British Museum which shows Odysseus tied to the mast so he can listen to their beautiful song without going crazy. The Sirens have feathers and neat hair that makes them more obviously feminine than the ones on this Lekythos.

Odysseus & the Sirens – British Museum

As time went by the images of Sirens made them more and more human.
Statue in National Museum of Archaeology, Athens
137-Sirene-vers--330

H.J. Draper (1909) Ulysses and the Sirens
Ulysses and the Sirens by H.J. Draper

Modern writers often use Sirens and Siren song to symbolise something almost irresistible but dangerous and female singers who are especially alluring are also described as Sirens. …All a bit different to the dark winged figure on this pot who is singing the warrior into his afterlife.

Other Sirens

In the Ure Museum there are several other items with Sirens on that you can look up on the database or go take a look at:
2005.3.24 – Aryballos on display in “History Grave”
37.7.1 – Aryballos in “Myth & Religion”
37.7.2 – Aryballos in “Greece”
51.1.4 – Plate in “Myth & Religion”
See also this decoration in Tampa Museum of Art;  this Lekythos in the British Museum and this one in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Further Academic Reading

Continue reading

Works-in-Progress

I think I am busy trying to write too many things at once..

I have two main projects:
1. Research and organisation for a paper on Time-Travel and Roman Britain to be delivered at the end of June and hopefully to turn into a journal article…
2. Editing and splicing parts of my Thesis to make an acceptable publication.

I am also currently working on some informational blog posts for the Ure Museum which touch on Greek Archaeology and Art History and I should be writing research proposal/job applications to get me into regular paid employment.

My key problem is dividing my time and practicising focusing on one task at a time. So I want to use the process of putting ideas online to help me pin down specific tasks.
Right now I need to spend at least 2hours a day working on the thesis based article and to read one or two journal articles/chapters for the Time-travel paper.
This weekend I am also going to write a beautifully optimistic research proposal.

 

CA 2013 – Highlights

I want to open this blog with some belated thoughts about key ideas and interesting facts that I took away from the Classical Association Conference this year.

  • Rejecting the Classics – I really liked the concept of this panel. It is well worth acknowledging that the places where we don’t use classics or aim to subvert them can tell scholars a lot about our preconceptions of what they represent. Where we draw boundaries between disciplines and topics is in itself significant as is whether we have a concept of doing the Classics the right way.
  • Ovid meets Titian – I didn’t really follow the cultural olympiad last year but I now need to go out and take more of a look at how contemporary poets have addressed Metamorphoses using Titian as a visual clue. The idea of a specific and explicit interaction between ancient, intermediate and modern interests me (it reminds me of how so many people only access texts through translation).
  • Roueché & Digital Classics – A big hit at the conference and a key area of growth. It was really good to listen to someone inspirational on the topic of collaboration and getting involved. There are so many fascinating projects that help make classics more accessible and allow us to interpret information in new ways – it makes me even more determined to learn some more technical skills.
  • Tony Keen –  I was enthused by Keen’s discussion of Nesbit’s Amulet and its depiction of Roman Britain. Its going to help my paper later this year. I was particularly interested in the role of Nesbit in the development of children’s lit and the difference between active involvement in the past and passive reception of it.
  • Lisa Maurice – This paper also had some really interesting points to make for my upcoming paper, notably on the temporal distribution of books relating to Roman Britain and the possible connection of the topics in the National Curriculum to eras commonly travelled to in time-travel literature.
  • Other Children’s Lit – There was a notable focus on Caroline Lawrence’s work (I think its got to the point where I really have to go and read some) but there were also a few insightful thoughts about how educational aims are represented and the ways tales from Homer were tailored for post-war Germany.
  • Goff on the WEA – it is always good to see projects that look at grassroots interest in the Classics. This was both unexpected and interesting.
  • Heather Ellis – Easily the most exciting paper of the conference for me. Dr Ellis was examining the way that the British Academy talked about and utilised Classical material, imagery and learning in their development of a scientific community. This has clear links to my thesis – the way that social groups and men-of-learning constructed identity by using the Classics even where such cross-over was a stretch of the imagination fits with the way antiquarians in Cornwall made use of multiple types of evidence and helps explain why they were so keen on Classical texts.

And because its just one of those things, I am sad I missed: Sommerstein on Translation, the papers about the Ure Museum, Robin Osborne’s address and the panel on Digital Classics.