The Odyssey Book 12 Quotes
How we cite the quotes:
(The Sirens, in Odysseus’s tale:) ‘“Come this way, honored Odysseus, great glory of the Achaians, and stay your ship, so that you can listen here to our singing; for no one else has ever sailed past this place in his black ship until he has listened to the honey-sweet voice that issues from our lips; then goes on, well-pleased, knowing more than ever he did; for we know everything that the Argives and Trojans did and suffered in wide Troy through the gods’ despite. Over all the generous earth we know everything that happens.” So they sang, in sweet utterance, and the heart within me desired to listen, and I signaled my companions to set me free, nodding with my brows, but they leaned on and rowed hard, and Perimedes and Eurylochos, rising up, straightway fastened me with even more lashings and squeezed me together.’ (12.184-196)
The Sirens represent temptation in its basest form – longing for beauty and lust for women. Temptations like these threaten the loyalty of Odysseus and the other Ithakans.
(Odysseus:) 'Right in her doorway she [Skylla] ate them up. They were screaming and reaching out their hands to me in this horrid encounter. That was the most pitiful scene that these eyes have looked on in my sufferings as I explored the routes over the water.' (12.256-259)
Considering that Odysseus has to watch his friends die basically one by one over the course of his voyage home, we're surprised that he holds up so well—particularly since he takes his responsibility to them so seriously.
(Odysseus, in his tale:) '"Dear friends, surely we are not unlearned in evils. This is no greater evil now than it was when the Cyclops had us cooped in his hollow cave by force and violence, but even there, by my courage and counsel and my intelligence, we escaped away. I think that all this will be remembered some day too. Then do as I say, let us all be won over."' (12.208-213)