In Greek mythology, the Sirens (Greek singular: ΣειρήνSeirēn; Greek plural: ΣειρῆνεςSeirēnes) were dangerous creatures, who lured nearby sailors with their enchanting music and singing voices to shipwreck on the rocky coast of their island. Roman poets placed them on some small islands called Sirenum scopuli. In some later, rationalized traditions, the literal geography of the "flowery" island of Anthemoessa, or Anthemusa, is fixed: sometimes on Cape Pelorum and at others in the islands known as the Sirenuse, near Paestum, or in Capreae. All such locations were surrounded by cliffs and rocks.
The Greek philosopher Plato says there were three kinds of sirens- the celestial, the generative, and the cathartic. The first were under the government of Zeus, the second under that of Poseidon, and the third of Hades. (A parallel might be intended here between the three planets, and the deities of the same name.) When the soul is in heaven the sirens seek, by harmonic motion, to unite it to the divine life of the celestial host; and when in Hades, to conform the soul to eternal infernal regimen; but when on earth their only job to "produce generation, of which the sea is emblematic".
Archaic perfume vase in the shape of Siren, c. 540 BC
The etymology of the name is at present contested. Robert S. P. Beekes has suggested a Pre-Greek origin. Others connect the name to σειρά (seirá "rope, cord") and εἴρω (eírō "to tie, join, fasten"), resulting in the meaning "binder, entangler", i. e. one who binds or entangles through magic song. This could be connected to the famous scene of Odysseus being bound to the mast of his ship, in order to resist their song.