Page:EB1911 - Volume 25.djvu/172

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.

canines, and the somewhat less degree of reduction in the pelvis, which has a complete acetabulum for the head of the femur. The front teeth (incisors and canine) have, however, been thrust to the sides of the jaw, possibly to make room for a horny plate on the palate. In the somewhat earlier Eotherium the incisors and canines are larger and occupy the normal position in the front of the jaws ; while the pelvis has a closed obturator foramen and a complete acetabulum, suggestive that a functional thigh-bone or femur was still retained. The most primitive member of the group with which we are yet acquainted is the very imperfectly known Prorastomus, from the Eocene of the West Indies, in which a complete and fully differentiated dentition is accompanied by the absence of that de- flection of the front part of the jaws which constitutes one of the most striking features of all the foregoing representatives of the order;—a feature which Dr C. W. Andrews has pointed out must be of great value to short-necked, long-bodied creatures feeding on the herbage at the bottom of the water in which they dwell.

The foregoing Egyptian fossil sirenians afford important evidence with regard to the ancestry of the order. Many years ago it was suggested by the French naturalist de Blainville that the Sirenia are related to the Proboscidea. This is supported by the occurrence of the remains of some of the most primitive sirenians with those of the most primitive proboscideans in the Eocene formations of Egypt; confirmatory evidence being yielded by the similarity of the brain and to some extent of the pelvis in the ancestral forms of the two groups. As regards the living members of the two groups, both have pectoral teats, abdominal testes, and a cleft apex to the heart; while the cheek-teeth of the sirenians are essentially of the same type as those of the early proboscideans. There seems also to be a certain similarity in the mode of succession of the teeth in the more specialized members of the two groups, although in the sirenians this specialization has displayed itself in an abnormal augmentation of the number of the teeth, while in the proboscideans, on the other hand, it has taken the form of an increase in the complexity of the individual teeth, especially those at the hinder part of the series. Finally, although the Proboscidea have a deciduate and the Sirenia a zonary nondeciduate placenta, yet there are certain similarities in the structure of this organ in the two groups which may indicate genetic affinity.

Literature.—O. Thomas and R. Lydekker, " On the Number of Grinding-Teeth possessed by the Manatee," Proc. Zoo/. Soc. (1897); G. R. Lepsius, " Halitherium schinzi, die fossile Sirene des Mainzer- Beckens," Abhandl. Mittelrhein. Geol. Vereins (1881 and 1882); O. Abel, " Die Sirenen der mediterranen Tertiarbildungen Osterreichs, " Abhandl. k. k. geol., Wien, vol. xix. (1904); and " tJber Halitherium bellunense, eine Ubergangsform zur Gattung Metaxy- therium," Jahrbuch k. k. geol. Reichsanstalt, Wien, vol. lv. (1905); C. W. Andrews, Descriptive Catalogue of the Vertebrata from the Fayum (British Museum, 1906).  (R. L.*) 

SIRENS (Gr. Σειρῆνες), in Greek mythology, the daughters of Phorcys the sea-god, or, in later legend, of the river-god Achelous and one of the nymphs. In Homer they are two in number (in later writers generally three); their home is an island in the western sea between Aeaea, the island of Circe, and the rock of Scylla. They are nymphs of the sea, who, like the Lorelei of German legend, lured mariners to destruction by their sweet song. Odysseus, warned by Circe, escaped the danger by stopping the ears of his crew with wax and binding himself to the mast until he was out of hearing (Odyssey xii.). When the Argonauts were passing by them, Orpheus sang so beautifully that no one had ears for the Sirens, who, since they were to live only until some one heard their song unmoved, flung themselves into the sea and were changed into sunken rocks (Apollodorus i. 9; Hyginus, Fab. 141). They were said to have been the playmates of Persephone, and, after her rape by Pluto, to have sought for her in vain over the whole earth (Ovid, Metam. v. 552). When the adventures of Odysseus were localized on the Italian and Sicilian coasts, the Sirens were transferred to the neighbourhood of Neapolis and Surrentum, the promontory of Pelorum at the entrance to the Straits of Messina, or elsewhere. The tomb of one of them, Parthenope, was shown in Strabo's (v. p. 246) time at Neapolis, where a gymnastic contest with a torch-race was held in her honour.

Various explanations are given of the Sirens. As sea-nymphs, they represent the treacherous calm of ocean, which conceals destruction beneath its smiling surface; or they signify the enervating influence of the hot wind (compare the name Sirius), which shrivels up the fresh young life of vegetation. Or, they symbolize the magic power of beauty, eloquence and song; hence their images are placed over the graves of beautiful women and maidens, of poets and orators (Sophocles, Isocrates). Another conception of them is that of singers of the lament for the dead, for which reason they are often used in the adornment of tombs, and represented beating their breasts and tearing their hair or playing the flute or lyre. In early art, they were repre- sented as birds with the heads of women; later, as female figures with the legs of birds, with or without wings.

See H. Schrader, Die Sirenen (1868); Preller- Robert, Griechische Mythologie (1894), pp. 614–616; G. Weicker, De Sirenibus quaestiones selectae (Leipzig, 1895), in which the writer endeavours to show that the Sirens, like the Harpies, were originally the souls of the dead, their employment on tombstones expressing the desire to find a permanent abode for the souls; and Der Seelenvogel in der alten Literatur und Kunst (1902), with bibliography; J. E. Harrison, Myths of the Odyssey (1882), Mythology and Monuments of Athens (1890) and Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion (1908) ; J. P. Postgate, in Journal of Philology, ix. (1880), who considers the Sirens to have been birds; W. E. Axon, R. Morris, D. Fitzgerald in the Academy, Nos. 484, 486, 487 (1881); A. Baumeister, Denkädler des klassisciten Altertums, iii. (1888).

SIRGUJA, or Surguja, one of the Chota Nagpur feudatory states, which was transferred in 1905, from Bengal to the Central Provinces. It is bounded on the N. by the state of Rewa and the districts of Mirzapur and Ranchi, on the E. by Ranchi, on the S. by the Bilaspur district of the Central Provinces and the states of Udaipur and Jashpur, and on the W. by the state of Korea. It is very hilly, with elevated table-lands affording good pasturage, and cut up by numerous ravines. The rivers are the Kanhar, Rer, Mahan, Sone and Sankh, the last being formerly known as the Diamond river. Hot springs exist in the state. Extensive sál forests cover a large area, affording shelter to herds of wild elephant, bison, and many sorts of deer, and also to tigers, bears and other beasts of prey. Area, 6089 sq. m.; pop. (1901) 351,011; estimated revenue, £8000. The residence of the maharaja is at Bisrampur.

SIRHIND, a tract of land in the Punjab, India. It consists of the north-eastern portion of the plain between the Jumna and Sutlej rivers, and is watered by the Sirhind canal. Sirhind is not an administrative division, but historically the name includes the districts of Umballa, Ludhiana, and Ferozepore, together with the states of Patiala, Jind and Nabha.

The Sirhind canal serves the Umballa and Ludhiana districts, and the Patiala, Jind and Nabha states. It draws its water- supply from the Sutlej near Rupar, where the head-works are situated. The canal, which was opened in 1882, has 538 m. of main and branch canals, and irrigates nearly 2000 sq. m.

The town of Sirhind, in the state of Patiala, had a population in 1901 of 5415- It is of very early, but uncertain, foundation, and had a period of great prosperity under the Moguls. Its ancient ruins cover a large extent, and include two fine domed tombs of the 14th century. It is held accursed by the Sikhs, owing to the barbarous murder of the son of Guru Govind by the Mahommedan governor in 1704.

SIRICIUS, pope from December 384 to November 399, successor of Damasus. Siricius was averse from countenancing the influence of the monks, and did not treat Jerome with the favour with which he had been honoured by preceding popes, with the result that Jerome left Rome and settled at Bethlehem. Some years later, however, Siricius condemned the anti-ascetic doctrines of Jovinianus. Several of the decretal letters of Siricius are extant, in which, at the request of certain groups of Western bishops, he sets forth the rules of ecclesiastical discipline. It was under his pontificate that a general council was convened at Capua in 391, at which various Eastern affairs were brought forward. Theophilus, bishop of Alexandria, at the request of Siricius, had two important disputes settled by two councils held in 393 at Caesarea and Contantinople, relating respectively to the sees of Antioch and Bostra. The council of Capua, inspired by the pope, deferred to the council of Macedonia the affair of Bonosus, bishop of Sardinia, who had been accused of heresy. To safeguard the authority of the Holy See over the bishops of Illyricum, Siricius entrusted his powers to the bishop of Thessalonica, who was henceforth the vicar of the pope in those provinces. In 386 Siricius had protested against the attitude of I Bishop Ithacius, the accuser of Priscillian, and this protest he