G is the letter of the day for those of us who are participating in the a-z blog challenge. My theme this year is “Living in a Mermaid World.”
Greece is home to many myths and legends about merfolk (mermaids and mermen.) Many of our ideas about mermaids come from these ancient Greek stories.
The ancient Greek mermaids were sea nymphs who had supernatural abilities. They lived in the sea but, on occasion, came ashore. They were depicted with a human upper body and a fish-like tail. These are the mermaids that gave us the image of mermaids as beautiful women with long flowing hair that they loved to comb. The mermen had strong torsos with green hair and eyes.
Triton was a Greek god who was the son of Poseidon and Amphirite, the god and goddess of the sea. He was the messenger of the sea who carried a trident and a conch shell which he blew to announce Poseidon’s arrival and to raise or calm the waves. Triton is depicted as a man with a fish tail. His sons and daughters were the mermaids and mermen.
An interesting Greek legend is the story of Alexander the Great’s younger sister, Thesslonike. When Alexander came home from one of his conquests, he brought water from the Fountain of Immortality which he used to wash his sister’s hair. When Alexander died, Thesslonike was so filled with grief that she attempted to end her life by jumping off of a cliff into the ocean. Instead of drowning, she was transformed into a mermaid.
According to the legend, sailors in the Aegean Sea were approached by Thesslonike who asked “Is Alexander was still alive?” If they said “yes,” all was well and they could sail on. If they answered “no,” she transformed into a sea monster, killed the sailors, and sank the ship.
I am always on the lookout for books about merfolk. I recently came upon this gem:
Sirena, a Mermaid Legend from Guam by Tanya Chargualaf Taimanglo (author) and Sonny K. Charualaf (illustrator.) picture book Author House: 2010
This retelling of a legend from Guam tells of Sirena, a young girl who would rather be outside swimming in the river than doing the many chores that her mother asked of her. One beautiful day, Sirena became distracted from her job of washing clothes because the the river seemed to be calling her. She left the clothes on the river bank and decided to swim. Her mother was so angry that she declared that Sirena might as well become a fish. Her Godmother heard this curse and pleaded that Serena would not become a fish. When Sirena dove into the water, she became half girl and half fish.
Isn’t it amazing how many mermaid legends there are?