Top 12 Classic Mermaid Mythologies & Legends

We have believed mermaids to be mythological beings, partly woman and partly fish. Ancient writers and poets have also termed them as a form of bird. These myths took birth in the reports of the existence of animals with characteristics similar to Sirenians (slow and passive mammals of tropical and sub-tropical waters). The stories and legends about mermaids appear in various cultures and all show the strength and power of seduction

Let’s get to know more about these deceptive looking women or fish, as you chose to call them, disguised as evils. Here are some classic mythologies and legends of mermaid.

1 The Brave-tale Of Odysseus

Mermaid Mythologies & Legends

Daughters of the river god Aquelous and the muse Terpsichore inhabited the cliffs between the island of Capri and the coast of Italy. They all were beautiful and melodious enough to attract the ship crew that passed by.

Gradually, the ships collided with the rocks and sank. Odysseus was a character from Homer’s Odyssey. He was the only one who managed to be safe because he had waxed his sailors’ ears and tied himself to the mast of his ship so he could hear them without being able to approach. In contemporary culture, mermaids represent sex and sensuality.

2 The Greek Associations

Mermaid Mythologies & Legends

The Ancient Greece mythology represents mermaids as the ones who attacked Odysseus. Not just that, it is believed that they offended the goddess Aphrodite and went to live on an isolated island. They resemble the harpies, but have black feathers, a beautiful voice and a unique beauty. The Greeks report that only two cases in which the charm of the mermaids was fought.

The first was Orpheus, the mythological god of music and poetry. When his vessel approached the mermaids, he saved his partners by playing a song even sweeter and more engaging than the one that came from the island.

The other solution was found by Ulysses. The hero of the Odyssey had no artistic talents. He knew he would not win the mermaids without any gifts. He assessed his weakness and fallibility, and rose with an idea. He planned to have all men cover their ears with wax and tie himself to the mast of the ship as it began to approach the sinister island. After facing his weakness and inability to face the mermaids, he went as per plan to the island.

In the same way, he ordered the crew: even if he begged to be let go, the ropes should be tightened even more. At the spur of the moment, Ulysses was seduced by the sirens. As was his instruction, his sailors did not set him free. Begging to be released, he was untouched by danger.

The mythological account terminates by saying that the mermaids were disappointed of defeat by a mere mortal, and thus drowned in the sea. Ulysses was saved, not by the perception of his superiority, but by the awareness of his fragility.

3 Legends That Have Found In Classical Literature

Mermaid Mythologies & Legends

The following mermaids found references in the classical literature-

Peisinoe (Mind Controller), Thelxiepia (Singer that Bewitches), Ligeia (Twelve Sonority), Aglaope, Leucosia, Parthenopes.

4 Legends Of The Middle East

Mermaid Mythologies & Legends

According to Diodorus Siculo, Atargatis Derketo was a goddess who loved a mortal shepherd and had with him a daughter, the future queen Semiramis. Out of embarrassment, she jumped into a pond and took the shape of a fish. Initially, she was represented as a fish with human head and legs, as the Babylonian god E. Later, according to Lucian of Samosata, she was represented in the form of a mermaid.

5 Legends Of Thessalonike

Mermaid Mythologies & Legends

A popular medieval legend in Greece says that Thessalonike, sister of Alexander the Great became a mermaid after death. She lives in the Aegean Sea. When sailors find her she asks them a question: “Does King Alexander live?” and the sailors must answer “Live and still reign”.

Any other answer turns her furious and transforms into a gorgon, condemning the ship and all the sailors on board.

6 Legends Of England

Mermaid Mythologies & Legends

Sirens appear in British folklore, both to predict disasters and to provoke them. They can also be a sign of bad weather. Sometimes, however, they are more beneficial and give healing means to humans. Tritons are cited as uglier and wilder than mermaids, but with little interest in humans.

Judging by similar beliefs in Northern Europe, the English folk sea originally had no fish tail but was influenced by the development of the Mediterranean mermaid conception in the middle ages.

Several variants of the ballad Sir Patrick Spens describe that some mermaids tell the doomed ships that they will never see land again, and in others, it states that there is a coast near, those who are wise enough, understand that it means the same thing.

7 Legends Of Welsh

Mermaid Mythologies & Legends

Mermaids on the Welsh border do not live in the sea, but in lakes and rivers. In Marden (Herefordshire), the bell of a church once fell into a deep puddle of a river. A mermaid caught him. In Child’s Ercall (Shropshire), the mermaid of a lake offered some men ‘a piece of gold, as great as a man’s head. One of them said a curse of astonishment, and she screamed and disappeared.

8 Legends Of Ireland

Mermaid Mythologies & Legends

In Ireland, sirens and merfolk are called merrows, murdhuacha, moruadh, moruach, muir-gheilt, samhghubha or suire.

9 The Legend Of Liban

Mermaid Mythologies & Legends

There is a legend about a young woman named Liban, daughter of Eochaid and Etain. She was astonished by the flood of a sacred source that had been neglected. She was carried to an underwater cave along with her dog while the rest of her community except Conang and Curman were destroyed. Liban got stuck for a year until she prayed that she could be like the fish. It was then that she was transformed to a salmon down the waist.

As a mermaid, Liban was freed. She remained under water, until 300 years later, when a cleric named Beoc heard her sing. She asked him to get her out of the water and take her to Saint Comgall. Liban was baptized and was given the choice of another 300 years of life or immediately enter Heaven. She chose the second option, and her image was carved into many of the pillars and seats of the churches built on the road she took to Saint Comgall.

10 Some Legends That Describe Their Exact Anatomy & Appearance

Mermaid Mythologies & Legends

In some myths and legends the mermaids were baptized by other names and described as having long blond hair, always singing while combing, using their combs, mirrors and perfumes.

From the waist down, mermaids are fish. From the waist up, they are beautiful young women with pale skin, dark eyes and long hair. The tritons are ugly, with skin, green teeth and hair, red nose and hook, and small, narrow eyes.

11 The Peculiarity Of Mermaids

Mermaid Mythologies & Legends

According to legends, the only way to defeat a mermaid by singing would be to sing better than her. Mermaids, however, have a weapon even more terrible than their song: their silence.

Singing represents the pulling force to reach those who are defenseless, usually men. This force of seduction of sound is capable of arousing a charming and irresistible attraction.

The myth of sirens or mermaids is related to dreams of ideal love that can become fatal.

It was supposed that the mermaids, though they had human intelligence, had no soul.

12 What Legends Say About Their Marriage

Mermaid Mythologies & Legends

According to many legends, they are generally peaceful and benevolent. They sometimes marry humans. The children of these marriages have membranes between the fingers and toes and, sometimes, also a scaly skin. All with membranes can turn into humans and terrestrial animals with the help of a magical cape of red feathers. If the cape is stolen, they will be unable to return to their underwater world. In legends, this is a feature frequently used by mortals to conquer a merrow bride.