The hero of Homer's epic The Odyssey is featured in this song, from Cream's 1967 album Disraeli Gears, but he appears under the Latin rendering of his name, Ulysses: And you touch the distant beaches/With tales of brave Ulysses/How his naked ears were tortured/By the Sirens sweetly singing. The reference is to an episode in The Odyssey, an account of the ten-year journey undertaken by Odysseus (Ulysses) to get home following the Trojan War. His course takes him past the island of the Sirens--mythical women whose irresistible song lures sailors to shipwreck on the rocks. He orders his crew to fill their ears with beeswax, then has himself lashed to the mast so he can hear the music for himself. When he hears the Sirens' song, he begs to be released, but his men stand firm and the ship passes by safely. The girl featured in "Tales of Brave Ulysses" is associated with the Greek goddess of love: Her name is Aphrodite/And she rides a crimson shell. Aphrodite appears in The Iliad, Homer's account of the Trojan War, and can be said to have helped instigate that conflict by enabling Paris's abduction of Helen, Queen of Sparta, the event that precipitated the war.
Submitted by Beth Calamia Scheckel