The History of Mermaids
Tales of tragic love stories from across the world
There is an overwhelming consensus across time and space about what constitutes a mermaid, her origin story, and her purpose in human culture…
Ancient Assyria: the goddess Atargatis accidentally killed her lover and, out of shame, she transformed herself into a mermaid
Ancient Greece: In Natural History, Pliny the Elder records numerous mermaid sightings of bodies washing up on the coast of Gaul covered in scales
British folklore: Mermaids represent omens that foretell and provoke disaster, with visual representation dating back to 1708, when Saxon stonemasons were building the Norman chapel in Durham Castle
Israel & Zimbabwe: Reports of mermaid sightings have been reported throughout history, and still occur today.
Eastern Europe: Rusalkas are the Slavic counterpart of the Greek sirens and are typically portrayed as restless spirits of the unclean dead. These spirits are young women who died a violent or untimely death before marriage, most often death occurs by drowning.
Thailand: Suvannamacha is a mermaid princess who attempts to disrupt the construction of a bridge to Lanka, but falls in love with the one building it, Hanuman.
Africa: Common depictions are of diabolical female water spirits who lure men to their death.
This half human, half fish femme fatale has found her way into the stories of various cultures, and still remains prevalent to this very day. Why does this creature insist on having a presence in popular culture?