Mermaid and Sirens: Myths and Legends
Mermaids and Sirens are mythical creatures that are half fish and half human. Mermaids are also known as Siren or in the ancient mythology as Syren (with a y) are a unique mythological character from different cultures.
Ever since humans thought of exploring seas and oceans, these sirens made their imaginations run wild. But in this modern time, how much do people know about the merpeople? How do people see these legends and these creatures? This week it's all about mermaids and the truth behind them.
Myths on sirens are abundant. Despite that, there is only a little information about their male counterparts, the Merman.
Merman: The first sea legend about mermaid and sirens
Ea the merman, the Babylonian god of the sea, is the very first story of the merfolks. He brought humankind knowledge on arts and sciences. And because of that and for fighting evil, the Babylonians loved him. His legend became the basis for the Greek's Poseidon.
From Poseidon came Triton, his son. And then Glaucus, a man, ate a magical herb and acquired fish-like traits. In African culture, the king of the seas called Olokun can manifest himself as a sea serpent or a merman.
As time pass by, humans have created variations of the merfolks. In Iceland, a merman, caught by a fisherman, gave insights on how foolish man has become. But the merman at the end of the story gave the fisherman gifts for releasing him.
In Philippine myths, mermen look like man-sized goblins with flippers. But merman in the Philippines has very dark legends. They oppose the attributes of sirens; they are scary and evil, they abduct girls as a wife.
Sirens and Mermaids Legends
Like their male counterpart, mermaids differs from each culture. Some talks about them as something dangerous. In one legend from Europe, these sirens use their long hair to strangle men. They do this to drag men down and devour on their skin.
In another tale, they are the giver of knowledge. Mermaids are the helper of the merman in giving knowledge of arts and science to humankind. All these legends gave them contradicting personas.
In Scandinavian folklore, a siren or a mermaid is beautiful. Mermaids bring good luck and cures for humans. In one legend, they are even considered to give wishes to those who saw them.
But, in British folklore, they are the exact opposite. These mermaids are horrible and hurt fishers. This depiction is the more often heard myth. The syrens, shown as beautiful maidens, lure sailors to their death. They use their enticing voice and good looks to enslave men.
Atlantis: Origin of the siren and mermaids?
As we all know, mermaids are aquatic. As they live underwater, it didn't take long for some people to claim that they come from the lost continent of Atlantis.
Atlantis is believed to have sunk because the Atlanteans angered the gods. In one myth, Atlantis became the home of the mermaids and merman.
They have created a civilization underwater with Atlantis as their kingdom.
There is, however, another story about it. Atlantis is not only believed to be sunken, but it is also believed to have advanced technology that would surpass even the technology today. The legend tells that the Atlanteans have used their technology to turn themselves into mermaids and mermen that we know today.
Facts: What do we know about mermaids?
No one has ever recorded catching a mermaid. But in the 16th century, Guillaume Rondelet claimed to have captured a merperson. And it resembles a monk with a bald head. But scientists explained that the species caught by Guillaume was a cetacean.
A lot of myths made about them are either debunked or unsubstantiated. The most famous of it is one of the greatest showman, P. T. Barnum with his exhibit of the Fiji mermaid.
It was one of the most successful displays of a hoax mermaid. Writer Jan Bondeson described it as fake and was basically an orangutan and a salmon sewed together.
Although the records of famous persons have surfaced, there was no other proof other than what they have seen. The explorer, Christopher Columbus recorded a meeting with one mermaid. But this meeting was later explained by scientist as the first record of a manatee sighting (marine mammal AKA sea cow AKA dugong).
The pirate, Blackbeard logged in his book that he ordered his crew to avoid "the chartered waters" as they believed to be the territory of mermaids. Their belief, supported by the records of other pirates, came from their encounters with a siren and the bad luck fell upon them. But there is no other explanation for this, but a coincidence coupled with a manatee sighting.
Sirens in Movies and TV shows
The fictional myths of mermaids and mermen survived the test of time. And their legends have always piqued our interest in breathing underwater. That is why we wrote stories and made films about having mermaid friends or even being a mermaid ourselves.
Sirens as a character have become famous. From Disney's animation of the little mermaid from Hans Andersen's book, to the different TV shows and series all over the world, everyone loves them. They are now known to be gentle and friendly. Mermaid became one of the most loved mythical beings that they have become characters in movies, novels, and stories.
Some claim that mermaids are real and create proofs. People try as hard as making videos and sharing it over the internet for gullible persons to believe what they want these people to think.
All over internet there are countless fake videos as well as fake pictures about mermaid, like the blue one we found on wikipedia (named "Mermaid Body"), if you check closely you will see that it is a montage. "it's even very badly made" said Patrice Laborda, Photographer, video and images expert, "Nowadays with all those software, where a lot of them are free, it's so easy for every one to fake everythings" he added.
Mermaids and Sirens Researches and References
All pictures used for this article are courtesy of Wikimedia Commons and our freediving staff.
If you want to know more about sirens and mermaids, take a look at some of our references below.
- mermaid history
- Fisherman and Merman
- Mermaids in North Mythology
- Mermaids across the world
- Mermaid and magic comb
- Tales of Tails
Speaking about mermaid, do you know that we have a mermaid swimming school?
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