The oldest form of the mermaid in mermaid mythology is the goddess Atargatis from Syria. A famous statue of Atargatis shows her as a woman from the waist up and a fish from there down. Later, Atargatis was conflated with other goddesses (a fancy way of saying that she became so closely associated with other goddesses that they were considered the same), such as Aphrodite, Cybele, Rhea and the wife of Hadad (they were protectors of the city).
All sea goddesses inherit the sea's qualities. Just as the sea could be gentle and nurturing or violent and deadly, so could they. These are the same contradictory qualities we see in mermaids to this day: beautiful, cruel, tender, loving, destroying, etc. In a larger sense this is man's view of nature. The mermaid, a fantastic creature, is nature herself.
Mythology is more than a bunch of stories. These stories have relavance to our lives today or they would not have endured as long as they have... Or remained as popular. Click here to see how mermaid mythology influenced, and formed, the life of one woman.
Aphrodite and Venus were identified with Atargatis
Poseidon (Neptune) and his son Triton were often described as mermen
Scylla, Glaucus and Circe form a famous love triangle
Thetis and Peleus, parents of Achilles
Russian and Slavic
The Rusalka, murder victims are transformed into mermaids.
a gentle sea goddess
a mythic Japanese hero
The Man-Fish - Shawnee
- the Haida of British Columbia
- Baffin Island
River mermaids - California
The mermaid wife story,
a mortal tricks a mermaid
The vengeful mermaid
a very old Celtic myth
infuriates a mermaid
The unhappy mermaid,
also from Scotland
Irish river goddess
Celtic mermaid goddess
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