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MythiMedia // Art & Design // Herbert James Draper

Victorian Painting to Metal Imagery, by Eleonora Cavallini and Elisabetta Zoni
Bologna University (Ravenna Campus)  

Victorian painter Herbert James Draper is the author of this painting, Ulysses and sirens (1909), where, according to Odyssey 12.166-200, these charming and lethal creatures try to seduce Odysseus with their beautiful voices. The most remarkable difference between the Homeric tale and its visual interpretations (both ancient and modern) consists in the fact that in Homer the Sirens are not visible: therefore, painters felt free to represent them as they wanted, beginning from Greek pottery (where the Sirens are zoomorphic monsters), up to the self-controlled sensuality of J. W. Waterhouse (The Siren, 1900) and to Draper’s more provocative retelling, where the Sirens are beautiful and aggressive sex-symbols.
An undisputable nod to Draper’s painting can be found in the cover of Symphony X’s album Odyssey  (2002), where Odysseus’s ship is literally assaulted by a Siren endowed with bat wings: an extemporaneous syncretism between Greek Mythology and horror.

Although they were formed in 1994, Symphony X are a progressive, symphonic metal band whose sound and themes hark back to those of 80s projects by Queensryche and Iron Maiden, mostly dealing with mythological and fantasy subjects. Their album The Odyssey is named after the title track – a 24-minute long, condensed version of some of the main episodes from Homer’s poem, and is characterized by elaborate, classical-style arrangements and melodies, and by conceptually dense lyrics.




Ulysses and the Sirens Symphony X - Odyssey

Ulysses and the Sirens

Symphony X - Odyssey

Symphony X CD

University of Bologna - Ravenna Campus
George Mason University