Homer, Herodotus, Pliny, and Ovid all claimed that the sea was inhabited by human beings. The legend of mermaids goes back to ancient Greece, where the first description of them is found in Homer, who says that in Sicily, half-female, half-bird creatures hunt down lost sailors. These strange creatures sing and compose music to attract sailors. Kirk warns in his work known as The Compulsory Reading of Homer Odysseus to the deadly siren song, he puts wax on the ears of the other passengers and ties himself to the mast so as not to be tempted by the beautiful song. Draper’s 1909 painting depicts the scene in an unusual way: Odysseus struggles with seduction caused by the mast-linked siren, as the sailors either stare at three beautiful women, frightened or indifferent, only one of whom has a siren’s tail.
In Transformations, Ovid remembers the strange creatures:
He writes about winged women, half human and half bird, who are not directly related to water but are celestial beings.
There were many legends about the origins of strange female characters, some of them were followers of the goddess Persephone, but when Hades, the god of the underworld, kidnapped Demeter’s daughter, the mermaids did nothing, nor did their goddess protect. As punishment, Persephone’s mother turns them into monsters and they have to live far from the human world. According to another legend, they belonged to the circles of the goddess of love and beauty Aphrodite. Aphrodite wanted to offer the virginity of the mermaids to one of the gods, but they refused the endowment so vile in our opinion today, so as a punishment, Aphrodite turned them into winged beings.
In ancient times, the female mermaid was a killer: seductive, attractive, confusing a man and preventing him from going the right path. They have many similarities with the goddesses of beauty and love. Henriette Ray’s 1903, The Nymph, shows three naked beauties posing as a goddess on the beach, the right figure seated on a moss rock playing the horn, the central figure Aphrodite, stretching out to the shore, holding a small mirror, the girl on the right holding a stick and spies in the distance . They appear as similarly fertile creatures in the history of Orpheus, when the Greek Dalians, the Argonauts, do not hear the enchanting shrieks of sirens only because of the song of Orpheus. Disappointed in their temptation, they succumb to the rock in their grief and die.
Scandinavian mermaids and black widows
Centuries have passed and gone, but mermaids remain demonic and seductive beings, both virgins and women in agony, who want to arouse desire in the first place in men. Mermaids live in a kind of female society, they do not have a husband, a constant companion, which was frightening to imagine antiquity. They rule the sea, storms, they are violent, and they destroy everything that gets in their way. The duality of mermaids is especially evident in the Middle Ages, an attractive and beautiful young woman and a destructive and deadly virgin at the same time, a strange mixture of Eros and Thanatos. Erotic artists paint it, and writers paint it into a romantic light. According to Christopher Columbus, he also met the three in 1493 on the island of Dominica.
In Norse mythology, there are mermaid-like creatures compromiseThey are called and depicted as giant sea monsters. They are female to the waist, but the lower part of the body is covered with scales and ends in a fishtail. The mermaid from Scandinavia is also included in the Edda, a medieval mythological collection. They have been described as hateful creatures that follow ships to bring misfortune to brave northern sailors. Sleeping sailors are dragged into the water to make them lovers and then killed.
Many countries where there are mermaids
Folklore knows mermaids all over the world, and they are fixed characters in myths and legends. In Russia RussianThey are called, there are no scales on their bodies, and they are able to walk on the ground. In Ireland and Scotland quenching His name is in Brittany Mary MorganIn Germany and Holland nothingIt is referred to as the elegant freshwater siren that attracts youngsters directly to the depths of the lather. It has different names in Asia, for example in Japan ningoin Brazil Limaniait’s called.
In Africa Mamiwata known as the deity. Strange and mysterious creatures also play other roles on the black continent, and the mermaid mask takes on the shape of a mermaid from the deities displayed during voodoo rituals.
With the end of the Middle Ages, at the dawn of the New Age, Europeans increasingly began to board ships, venturing farther and farther from the old continent.
Sailors are fascinated by the mysterious sea and the endless ocean, and it is often believed that they see non-existent beings.
in the sixteenth. In the 16th century, the alleged remains of mermaids were displayed in museums to either entertain or frighten visitors. Also, 15th century word of mouth is the story of a woman and girl being pulled from the Indian Ocean and brought to the Portuguese monarch, Manuel I. They were described as infinitely sad and ate almost nothing. Seeing this, the righteous king ordered them to be taken to the nearest water, where they happily jumped into the sea. Although the king wouldn’t let them go forever, he did take the odd couple to the water every day until they died a few years later.
In 1720, a half-man, half-fish creature from Newfoundland appeared around Marie de Grace’s ship, meandering in the waves for two hours to the delight of the crew. They tried to catch him in vain while the creature wanted to topple the female statue in the bow of the ship. But he tried in vain, disappearing after the show punctuated by huge leaps. Around 1820, English and French newspapers reported that an unknown sea creature also appeared off the sands off the coast of Scotland. The ship’s doctor described the Siren as having beautiful eyes, a beautiful figure, and a white, round chest.
In 1669, several people are said to have seen a little mermaid off the coast of Copenhagen, possibly inspiring Andersen to create the most beloved mermaid in world history and literature. In The Little Mermaid, the narrator describes his protagonist as a compassionate, self-sacrificing, romantic being who kills himself instead of his love.
What does science say?
Cuvier, the French zoologist, said that the strange thing he saw off the coast of Scotland was something inanimate, just some kind of fraud – something like the creature “mixed together” by half a fish and half a monkey, later made by the American circus artist Barnum .. the number of visitors to his museum.
Sometimes we’ve been able to expose fraudsters like Barnum, but how do we explain the persuasive accounts of marine creatures? In the nineteenth. Century scientists were able to solve the problem and demystify it: the human-like marine creatures that appear in the water could be mammals; The dugong or sea cow evokes the imagination of mermaids in mermaids.
Isidore Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, the famous French ethicist, notes that man and sea cow are very similar, the long hair on the upper lip of the animal can also be seen as hair, and its broad chest half showing out of the water can look like a human in the distance.
Cuvier notes that manatees and dugongs can delicately balance their feet on the ground, and have five toes that end in round nails, just like a human. Sailors tired of constantly staring at the horizon could look at their fins.
In 2012, Animal Planet and the Discovery Channel became the most-watched shows of all time Mermaids find a body A fictional documentary, it presented research on mermaids as if it were an existing discipline. Millions watched with enthusiasm the “mermaids” floating in front of the window of the submarine, while the actors played the role of researchers. Finally, the US Department of Oceanography and Aviation was asked to issue a statement that they had no such research, and the director of the discovery program resigned in 2015 as a result of the scandal.
So we’ll have to wait for proof of the existence of mermaids, but in the meantime let’s look at the paintings relating to them, Waterhouse Odysseus and Cyrene, Where Birds’ Bodies, or Edvard Munch’s Nymph, Fisherman’s Feet until he possesses his. Because mermaids, despite the impossibility of their existence, still give a lot to art.
(Cover Photo: A performer dressed as a mermaid at the pool at Sea Life Berlin on October 8, 2019. Photo: Britta Pedersen/Picture Alliance/Getty Images)
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