So what about their hot bods? Well, the sirens are indeed hot ... if you like birds. As Wilson notes, the Odyssey don't go into much detail about how bangable the sirens are -- which makes sense, considering that they only feature in the book for a single paragraph. Depictions of sirens in ancient artwork not only show them as hybrids of birds and humans, but also reveal that some are male.
So yeah, we can probably stop describing beautiful people as being "sirens." Unless you're really into Big Bird, in which case, go for it.
Walters Art MuseumNo kink-shaming, of course.
Related: 6 Books Everyone (Including Your English Teacher) Got Wrong
Uncle Tom Was Anything But
Today, the term "Uncle Tom" is used to decry black people who undermine both the black community and the concept of black people having equal rights in return for enormous personal gain. You might've seen it recently used by Snoop Dogg against Kanye West after Ye came out in support of the abolishment of the 13th Amendment, which, uhhhhh ... no?
In reality, though, it's hard to think of a character who's been misaligned worse than the titular character of Harriet Beecher Stowe's anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom's Cabin.
Uncle Tom was a slave who, in the novel's third act, is sold to a evil even by plantation owner standards dickhead named Legree, who kicks off the
worker slave/boss relationship by ordering Tom to whip another slave. If "Uncle Tom" meant what everyone thinks it does, this would be the part of the story where he sells out his fellow slaves in order to get into his master's graces -- but he doesn't. He straight up refuses, despite knowing that he'll be beaten too.
Eventually, Tom encourages two of his friends, Cassy and Emmeline, to escape the plantation, which they do. This leads to Legree interrogating Tom in order to find out where they're hiding. Tom once again refuses to sell out, and the novel ends with him getting beaten to death by Legree's men.
So what happened to Uncle Tom? *Sigh* White people. After the novel was published, it went old-timey viral across the country. And because intellectual property wasn't a thing, stage show operators started putting on productions of Cabin. In order to make the material more palatable to white sensibilities, however, they reworked Tom to be a more feeble, subservient character. Whereas the Uncle Tom of the novel was a young and muscular man, the Uncle Tom of the stage adaptations was balding, decrepit, and old. Yes, just like Stephen from Django Unchained.
John P. Jewett & Co., M.A. Donahue & Co.Pictured: the exact same characters, in 1853 and 1900, respectively.
Like the book, these stage shows proved to be popular hits. But it's this degradation of the main character that sticks out in modern minds, rather than the badass who sacrifices himself to protect his slave brothers and sisters. A bastardization which only exists because of goddamn frail white people.
Adam Wears is on Twitter and Facebook, and has a newsletter dedicated to depressing history facts. It's not as heartbreakingly sad as it sounds, promise!
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