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Tempera colors, gold leaf, and ink on parchment, circa 1270. Unknown illuminator. Fine art replica print© 2024 Allen Bjorkman

Siren and Centaur

  • Matted Dimensions: 6 x 6 inches

    Please note that the frames shown are not always available, and the outside dimensions of framed prints vary in size. Mat colors may also vary. Contact our frame shop for custom framing at no extra cost at

  • The siren and the centaur are two of the mythological beasts that populate medieval bestiaries. Their significance changed in the Middle Ages as they became vehicles for Christian teaching. The siren was still represented as half woman, half bird, with an extraordinary power to lure sailors with their charm. In this text, however, the siren has become a moralizing symbol of vanity. Just as sailors are enticed by sirens, so ignorant and incautious human beings are seduced by pretty voices, when they are charmed by vain desires and pleasures. The centaur also appears frequently in medieval art. A fantastic hybrid from ancient mythology, half horse, half man, whose human appearance from the front conceals a beastly nature behind, the centaur represented the sin of hypocrisy in the Christian tradition.

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