Mermaids and Myths, Djullanar the Sea-girl
Mermaids are mystical creatures with a female torso and head and a tail like a fish. They were very beautiful. They were said to lure men to their deaths. They charmed them with beautiful music. It was said if sailors heard the songs of the mermaid they would die.
Mermaids also would swim in rivers and lakes. Mermen were uglier and wilder than mermaids and had little interest in humans.
All countries have their versions of mermaids. In 1000 BC in Assyria the goddess Atargatis was in love with a human shepherd. She accidentally killed him. She was so ashamed that she jumped into the lake to become a fish. The water wouldn't cover her because of her beauty. So she became a mermaid. She was human above the waist and fish below.
In Babylon Ea was a fish with a human head and legs. In Greece Derketo is Atargatis. A Greek legend is about Thessalonike who was the sister of Alexander the Great. When she died she turned into a mermaid. After that she lived in the Aegean Sea and would ask sailors if King Alexander was alive. If they answered correctly she would calm the sea and say farewell to the sailors. They lived. If the sailors gave the wrong answer she would cause terrible storms and the sailors died.
Arabian stories, One Thousand and One Nights had stories of sea people. One is of Djullanar the sea girl. Sea people are identical to humans but can breathe underwater. They would breed with humans and the children of these unions could breathe underwater.
In Brittish folklore mermaids were bad luck. They were fortellers oisasters and caused disasters. In Japan their folklore was if you ate the flesh of mermaids you would be immortal.
In the first century a description of a mermaid was a body that was rough and scaly. The fifth century as the beast of the sea and in the thirteen century they were defined more clearly.
People have reported seeing mermaids. Christopher Columbus was said to have seen three mermaids on his voyage to America. In 1493 Purchas, a ship captain, had logged seeing female forms coming out of the water. He said they were not as beautiful as previous people had reported. In 1870, 1890 and 1967 there were reported sightings in Canada.
There were fake mermaids, people trying to make money off of the myth. Before the nineteenth century manatees and dugongs were mistaken for mermaids.
Is there really mermaids? Or is it mistaken identity or hallucinations? I can see how this could happen. Men sailing the seas for months and years at a time. No women on board. Not getting into port very often. Imagine men standing at the rail looking out into the sea, seeing something moving afar. They have heard the stories of mermaids. So they could think they saw a mermaid. The mind can play tricks.
What do you think?