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A friend of mine just told me about a book about a person named aulice/olice or something like that who want to boat in a river in which whispering mermaids try to enchant people to drown. I only remember these parts of the plot; however, it seems that it is a famous tale. What is that book?

12

This actually sounds like The Odyssey, one of the two great Ionian Greek epics by the blind poet Homer. In Book 12, Odysseus (better known in many countries by his Latinized name Ulysses) encounters the sirens. The sea-witch Circe describes them thus:

So far so good,... and now pay attention to what I am about to tell you—heaven itself, indeed, will recall it to your recollection. First you will come to the Sirens who enchant all who come near them. If any one unwarily draws in too close and hears the singing of the Sirens, his wife and children will never welcome him home again, for they sit in a green field and warble him to death with the sweetness of their song. There is a great heap of dead men's bones lying all around, with the flesh still rotting off them. Therefore pass these Sirens by, and stop your men's ears with wax that none of them may hear; but if you like you can listen yourself, for you may get the men to bind you as you stand upright on a cross-piece half way up the mast, and they must lash the rope's ends to the mast itself, that you may have the pleasure of listening. If you beg and pray the men to unloose you, then they must bind you faster.

The sirens are usually depicted in contemporary works as mermaids—part woman, part fish (although the ancient Greeks usually represented them as part woman, part bird). Their singing drives (male) sailors to madness; the men are drawn ineluctably toward the monsters, until their vessels are destroyed upon the rocks of their isle.

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  • +1 for the answer. In my heuristic searches, I found this story but I wasn't sure. – Eilia Dec 25 '18 at 9:08
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    @Eiliae - As appropriate as the +1 is, it's not clear whether you think this is the answer you were looking for or not. If it is, please don't forget to mark it as the accepted answer. If it definitely isnt, a comment to that effect would be helpful. – RDFozz Dec 25 '18 at 18:18

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