Odd and Interesting Mermaid Facts

These mermaid facts are arranged in more-or-less chronological order so we can see the evolution of these fantasy creatures over the centuries.

The first mermaid was actually a man. He was the god Oannes from Babylon, often shown as a man with a fish's tail. According to written descriptions he had the head and body of a fish but under the fish head is a human head and under the tail were human feet.

Originally the sirens were bird-women, this is the source of their beautiful singing voices. According to various ancient authors there were two, three or eleven of them.

The Nereids were sea-nymphs and the daughters of Nereus and Doris. There were 50 of them. Their father was famous for his ability to foretell the future and change form. The former ability appears from time to time in merfolk stories. His form-changing ability also reappears now and again. Especially, with those who have legs on land and a tail in the sea.

Going beyond mere data: the goddesses Venus and Aphrodite are both associated with the sea. Aphrodite was born from the sea-foam, in fact her name means "foam-born". When the powerful god Typhon attacked Olympus the frightened gods fled to Egypt and disguised themselves as animals. Aphrodite took the form of a fish.

Two important mermaid facts are the symbols of the comb and mirror, which come from the goddess Venus. The mirror is so closely associated with Venus that the symbol for the planet Venus is a mirror (the circle with the "+" under it).

In heraldry the two-tailed mermaid is shown full face with the ends of her tails held in each hand. Both single-tailed and double-tailed varieties symbolize eloquence. If she has her comb and mirror with her then it means vanity.

A two-tailed mermaid is the basis for the Starbuck's logo. It has been somewhat edited because some people found the original image too sexually suggestive.

For a brief period during the Middle Ages mer-ladies with wings were carved on tombstones. These are probably descendents of the bird-sirens used in classical times. They are meant to represent both mourners and guides bringing the spirit of the dead to the afterlife.

For the stories behind the bare mermaid facts visit Legend of the Mermaid.

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