The Sirenuse Islands off the southwest coast of Italy were famous for being home to the Sirens, whose songs were so irresistibly seductive that seamen felt impelled to fling themselves into the waters in an attempt to reach them. No seaman ever survived, so no living human knew the nature of the Sirens' songs.

Ulysses wanted to be the first human to hear the songs and survive. He instructed his crew to fill their ears with beeswax to block out the sound, then tie him securely to the mast and ignore his pleas to be released, should he do so. The plan worked.

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