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In Greek mythology, the Sirens (Greek singular: Σειρήν Seirēn; Greek plural: Σειρῆνες Seirēnes) were three dangerous bird-women, portrayed as seductresses, who lived on an island 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 Sirenusian islands near Paestum or in Capreae. All such locations were surrounded by cliffs and rocks. Sailors who sailed near were compelled by the Sirens' enchanting music and voices to shipwreck on the rocky coast. When the Sirens were given a parentage they were considered the daughters of the river god Achelous, fathered upon Terpsichore, Melpomene, Sterope, or Chthon, the Earth, in Euripides' Helen 167, where Helen in her anguish calls upon "Winged maidens, daughters of the Earth". Although they lured mariners, for the Greeks the sirens in their "meadow starred with flowers" were not sea deities. Roman writers linked the Sirens more closely to the sea, as daughters of Phorcys.
Their number is variously reported as between two and five: Homer says nothing of their origin or names, but gives the number of the Sirens as two [Odyssey, 12:52]. Later writers mention both their names and number; some state that there were three, Peisinoe, Aglaope, and Thelxiepeia (Tzetzes, ad Lycophron 7l2) or Parthenope, Ligeia, and Leucosia (Eustathius, loc. cit.; Strabo v. §246, 252 ; Servius' commentary on Virgil's Georgics iv. 562). Eustathius (Commentaries §1709) states that they were two, Aglaopheme and Thelxiepeia. Their individual names are variously rendered in the later sources as Thelxiepeia/Thelxiope/Thelxinoe, Molpe, Aglaophonos/Aglaope/Aglaopheme, Pisinoe/Peisinoë/Peisithoe, Parthenope, Ligeia, Leucosia, Raidne, and Teles.
The sirens of Greek mythology are sometimes portrayed in later folklore as fully aquatic and mermaid-like; the fact that in Spanish, French, Italian, Polish, Romanian and Portuguese, the word for mermaid is respectively Sirena, Sirène, Sirena, Syrena, Sirenă and Sereia, and that in biology the Sirenians comprise an order of fully aquatic mammals that includes the dugong and manatees, add to the visual confusion, so that sirens are even represented as mermaids, to the extent that Starbucks' heraldic melusine, crowned and displaying her double tail, a creature of the medieval imagination, is officially considered at Starbucks a siren: in 2006, Valerie O'Neil, a Starbucks spokeswoman, said that the logo is an image of a "twin-tailed siren". However, "the sirens, though they sing to mariners, are not sea-maidens," Harrison had cautioned; "they dwell on an island in a flowery meadow."