Do you think Sansa can be described as 'Siren'?
By Siren, do you mean the half bird and half woman creature from Greek Mythology? Or by Siren, do you mean Mermaid?
Through history, both concepts have merged and that's why I think Sansa Stark is associated with both.
Siren, in Greek mythology, a creature half bird and half woman who lured sailors to destruction by the sweetness of her song.
Art credit: Ulysses and the Sirens by John William Waterhouse
In Homer’s Odyssey, Book XII, the Greek hero Odysseus, advised by the sorceress Circe, escaped the danger of their song by stopping the ears of his crew with wax so that they were deaf to the Sirens. Odysseus himself wanted to hear their song but had himself tied to the mast so that he would not be able to steer the ship off its course.
“Friends, it’s wrong for only one or two to know the revelations that lovely Circe made to me alone. I’ll tell you all, so we can die with our eyes wide open now or escape our fate and certain death together. First, she warns, we must steer clear of the Sirens, their enchanting song, their meadow starred with flowers. I alone was to hear their voices, so she said, but you must bind me with tight chafing ropes so I cannot move a muscle, bound to the spot, erect at the mast-block, lashed by ropes to the mast. And if I plead, commanding you to set me free, then lash me faster, rope on pressing rope.”
[...] We were just offshore as far as a man’s shout can carry, scudding close, when the Sirens sense at once a ship was racing past and burst into their high, thrilling song: “Come closer, famous Odysseus—Achaea’s pride and glory— moor your ship on our coast so you can hear our song! Never has any sailor passed our shores in his black craft until he has heard the honeyed voices pouring from our lips, and once he hears to his heart’s content sails on, a wiser man.
—Odyssey, Book XII - Homer
Sirens were believed to look like a combination of women and birds in various different forms. In early Greek art, they were represented as birds with large women's heads, bird feathers and scaly feet. Later, they were represented as female figures with the legs of birds, with or without wings, playing a variety of musical instruments, especially harps and lyres.
The tenth-century Byzantine encyclopedia Suda says that from their chests up, sirens had the form of sparrows, and below they were women or, alternatively, that they were little birds with women's faces.
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As you can see, we could find many allusions to sirens in Sansa Stark:
Siren: Half bird and half woman & Sansa: little bird, mockingbird.
Siren: Sweetness of her song / Honeyed voices & Sansa: "So the singer played for her, so soft and sad that Arya only heard snatches of the words, though the tune was half-familiar. Sansa would know it, I bet. Her sister had known all the songs, and she could even play a little, and sing so sweetly. All I could ever do was shout the words." —A Storm of Swords - Arya IV
Siren: Lures sailors to drown & Sansa: "You have your mother's eyes. Honest eyes, and innocent. Blue as a sunlit sea. When you are a little older, many a man will drown in those eyes." —A Feast for Crows - Sansa I
Siren: Harps and lyres & Sansa: "Sansa could sew and dance and sing. She wrote poetry. She knew how to dress. She played the high harp and the bells." —A Game of Thrones - Arya I
Siren: Lives in flowery meadows & Sansa: Linked with flowers and certain meadow.
Siren: Represented as little birds /sparrows & Sansa: little bird, mockingbird.
Mermaids are also called Sirens. Sirena is the Spanish word for Mermaid.
Art credit: A Mermaid by John William Waterhouse
Mermaid, masculine merman, a fabled marine creature with the head and upper body of a human being and the tail of a fish. Similar divine or semidivine beings appear in ancient mythologies (e.g., the Chaldean sea god Ea, or Oannes). In European folklore, mermaids (sometimes called sirens) and mermen were natural beings who, like fairies, had magical and prophetic powers. They loved music and often sang. Though very long-lived, they were mortal and had no souls.
Though sometimes kindly, mermaids and mermen were usually dangerous to man. Their gifts brought misfortune, and, if offended, the beings caused floods or other disasters. To see one on a voyage was an omen of shipwreck. They sometimes lured mortals to death by drowning, as did the Lorelei of the Rhine, or enticed young people to live with them underwater, as did the mermaid whose image is carved on a bench in the church of Zennor, Cornwall, England.
THE LITTLE MERMAID
Art credit: Illustration of The Little Mermaid, mid-19th century, by E. S. Hardy.
Probably the most famous mermaid in popular culture is Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid.
Reading the Danish fairy tale, it's almost impossible not to draw parallels between The Little Mermaid and Sansa Stark, both so avid to leave their homes to see a new world and find love.
Both girls are young, beautiful, romantics, possess beautiful voices and are full of gentleness and kindness.
You can also find sad parallels, like this one explained by@mryoyo000
Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid has a bittersweet ending as our heroine fails to make the prince fall in love with her and witnesses his wedding to another girl.
The Little Mermaid then resigned herself to die and become sea foam, but at the very end she is rewarded for her kindness.
If you are interested, you can read The Little Mermaid here.
Art credit: La nascita di Venere by Sandro Botticelli
Let's make a little stop here to talk about Aphrodite.
Aphrodite is neither a mermaid nor a siren, she is an Ancient Greek Goddess, born from the froth of the sea:
Aphrodite, ancient Greek goddess of sexual love and beauty, identified with Venus by the Romans. The Greek word aphros means “foam,” and Hesiod relates in his Theogony that Aphrodite was born from the white foam produced by the severed genitals of Uranus (Heaven), after his son Cronus threw them into the sea.
As you can see, both in the myth of Aphrodite and in the tale of The Little Mermaid, the froth of the sea has a determining importance, meaning life and death:
The Birth of Aphrodite
The genitalia themselves, freshly cut with flint, were thrown
Clear of the mainland into the restless, white-capped sea,
Where they floated a long time. A white foam from the god-flesh
Collected around them, and in that foam a maiden developed
And grew. Her first approach to land was near holy Cythera,
And from there she floated on to the island of Cypros.
There she came ashore, an awesome, beautiful divinity.
Tender grass sprouted up under her slender feet.
Is her name in speech human and divine, since it was in foam
She was nourished. But she is also called Cythereia since
She reached Cythera, and Cyprogenes because she was born
On the surf-line of Cypros, and Philommedes because she loves
The organs of sex, from which she made her epiphany.
Eros became her companion, and ravishing Desire waited on her
At her birth and when she made her debut among the Immortals.
From that moment on, among both gods and humans,
She has fulfilled the honored function that includes
Virginal sweet-talk, lovers’ smiles and deceits,
And all of the gentle pleasures of sex.
—Theogony - Hesiod
"We can live until we are three hundred years old, but when we cease to exist, we become foam on the water, do not even have a grave down here among our dear ones. We do not have an immortal soul, we will never live again, we are like the green rushes, once they have been severed they can never grow green again!"
—The Little Mermaid - Hans Christian Andersen
Here we need to remember that the Freys dump her (Catelyn) body naked into the Green Fork, a mockery of House Tully's funeral customs, after Catelyn has been dead for a day and a night. Three days after her death, Catelyn's corpse is retrieved from the Green Fork by Arya Stark's direwolf, Nymeria, who runs away when humans approach. Catelyn is resurrected by Lord Beric Dondarrion, who gives his life for hers through the last kiss.
We also have the Ironborn Ritual Drowning. The priests of the Drowned God know how to drown a man and then bring him back to life, using the kiss of life. This is done as part of the rites of the god, consecrating the drowned person to him. Not all men are successfully revived, however. While the priest or one of his acolytes uses the kiss of life on the drowned man, other acolytes might pray around them. It is custom to give a newborn child to the Drowned God shortly following his birth. Some priests believe that this should be done in a similar manner, but more frequently the child is simply dipped into a tub of seawater to wet the infant's head.
Also, if you check the multiple representations of Aphrodite in art, she is clearly depicted as a mermaid, with floating long hair (often red), emerging from the sea foam, carried in a giant shell, surrounded by sea creatures, etc.
“Six maids there were in a spring-fed pool …”
—A Storm of Swords - Jaime III
Art credit: Nereiden by Eduard Veith
And talking about mermaids and ancient goddesses, bodies of water and beautiful naked ladies coming from said bodies of water, all of that reminds me of the tales about Jonquil bathing in a sweet water pool (Maidenpool) at the Riverlands.
So Jonquil is surrounded by Mermaid/Aphrodite aesthetic.
And fair Jonquil reminds me of certain girl from the maternal line of House Tully, half fish, with long auburn hair and sunlit blue eyes....
Anyways, now lets go back to mermaids.
DISNEY'S THE LITTLE MERMAID
Pictures credit: Disney's The Little Mermaid
Disney's animated version of The Little Mermaid changed the bittersweet ending of the original tale by giving to our heroine Ariel the fulfillment of her love story with her beloved prince Eric.
You can find a very sweet parallel between Sansa, Jon, Ariel and Eric, here.
Now, we all know that Jean Cocteau's La Belle et la Bête (based in one of the first versions of the fairy tale), is one of GRRM's favorite films, but the author has said that he likes Disney's The Little Mermaid even more than Disney's Beauty and the Beast:
GRRM is also very aware of Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid and it's bittersweet ending:
WELT: Again: We know what will happen to the Mother of Dragons. How do you want to surpass that in a novel – with an alternative literary version?
GRRM: Counter question: How many children did Scarlett O'Hara have? In Margaret Mitchell’s novel “Gone with the Wind” she had three children. But in the cinema version of the novels she only had one child. Which version is the only one valid - the one with one or the other with three children? The answer is: neither. Because Scarlett O'Hara never existed, she is a fictional character, not a real person, who would have had real children. Or take “The Little Mermaid”. We know her from the fairytale of the same name by Hans Christian Andersen and from the Disney movie. Which one is the true mermaid? Well, mermaids do not exist. So you can chose the version that you personally like the best. Changes are inevitable in this process. Even if the adaption is as faithful to the literary source material as it was the case with “Game of Thrones”.
—GEORGE R. R. MARTIN “Die Leute kennen ein Ende – nicht das Ende” - WELT 2020 - (Translation)
With all that said, now lets see for direct references of mermaids in ASOIAF.
MERMAIDS AND ASOIAF
Merlings are legendary aquatic creatures with the upper body of a human and the tail of a fish. Merfolk include mermen, merwives, and mermaids.
Mermaids are featured in Westerosi carvings, place names, and in songs. They are often featured in places near the sea, such as White Harbor.
The sigil of House Manderly of White Harbor is a white merman with dark green hair, beard and tail, carrying a black trident, over a blue-green field.
The Merling King is a Braavosi trading galley. Its figurehead is a golden-crowned merman blowing on a seashell horn.
The Merling King comes to King's Landing after the Battle of the Blackwater. There it is hired by Lord Petyr Baelish to take him to the Eyrie to wed the widowed Lady Lysa Arryn. Petyr and Sansa Stark flee on the galley after the death of King Joffrey I Baratheon at his royal wedding. Their voyage north is dangerous, as two men are swept overboard and a third breaks his neck. After putting Petyr and Sansa Stark ashore at the Fingers, the Merling King sets sail for Braavos.
Off the bow of the Merling King stretched a bare and stony strand, windswept, treeless, and uninviting. Even so, it made a welcome sight. They had been a long while clawing their way back on course. The last storm had swept them out of sight of land, and sent such waves crashing over the sides of the galley that Sansa had been certain they were all going to drown. Two men had been swept overboard, she had heard old Oswell saying, and another had fallen from the mast and broken his neck.
[...] That night Sansa scarcely slept at all, but tossed and turned just as she had aboard the Merling King.
—A Storm of Swords - Sansa VI
Are you telling me that our Little Mermaid Sansa Stark sailed on a ship called the Merling King??? And when she disembarked at the Fingers, she became Alayne Stone??? Like a death and a birth after crossing the sea??? Like the sea foam meaning death and life in myth and folklore??? Interesting....
And finally, this passage could be a homage to Disney's The Little Mermaid:
The last of the Bronze Kings was Yorwyck’s grandson, Robar II, who inherited Runestone from his sire less than a fortnight before his sixteenth nameday yet proved to be a warrior of such ferocity and cunning and charm that he almost succeeded in stemming the Andal tide.
By that time the Andals controlled threequarters of the Vale and had begun to fight amongst themselves, as had the First Men before them. Robar Royce saw opportunity in their disunity. Across the Vale, a handful of First Men still held out against the Andals; the Redforts of Redfort, the Hunters of Longbow Hall, the Belmores of Strongsong, and the Coldwaters of Coldwater Burn chief amongst them. One by one, Robar made alliance with each of them, and many smaller clans and houses besides, bringing them to his cause with marriages, grants of land, gold, and (in one celebrated case) by outshooting the Lord Hunter in an archery contest (legend claims that King Robar cheated). So honeyed was his tongue that he even won the allegiance of Ursula Upcliff, a reputed sorceress who called herself bride of the Merling King.
—The World of Ice and Fire - The Vale
A sorceress named Ursula??? Bride of the Merling King??? Oh George, you adorable nerd.
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As you can see, we could find many allusions to mermaids in Sansa Stark:
Mermaid: Half fish and half woman & Sansa: House Tully / half fish.
Mermaid: Often depicted with red hair & Sansa: Tully auburn hair.
Mermaid: Lures mortals to death by drowning & Sansa: "You have your mother's eyes. Honest eyes, and innocent. Blue as a sunlit sea. When you are a little older, many a man will drown in those eyes." —A Feast for Crows - Sansa I
Mermaid: Likes fairies, had magical and prophetic powers. Loves music and often sings & Sansa: Loves fairy tales, her dreams come true, is the protagonist of multiple prophecies, loves music and sings.
Mermaid: In Myth (Aphrodite) and Folklore (The Little Mermaid) the sea foam means life and death & Sansa: After sailing on a ship called "The Merling King (Merman)," Sansa disembarked at the fingers and became Alayne Stone.
Mermaid: A marine creature, often depicted half naked (their human half) & Sansa: Descendant from House Tully of the Riverlands, which sigil is a trout, whose members are colloquially called half fish. Sansa's favorite stories are the ones that involve fair Jonquil, who according to the tales was seen bathing (probably naked) in a sweet water pool (Maidenpool) at the Riverlands (Mermaid/Aphrodite aesthetic).
There you have it! And this post is already too long....
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