Mermaids are seen as something mythological or nonexistent, yet there are many stories about them. They are something that society has decided does not exist. Mermaids are mythical creatures that live in the sea. According to popular belief, mermaids were half human and half fish. Men are attracted to them because of their beauty and voice (Littleton 418). Mermaids are the female version and mermen are the male version. Many of the legends and myths about mermaids have come from many different places around the world, each carrying their own version of the myth. Another common term used for mermaid is the term siren. Mermaids are often a visual depiction of powerful water spirits. Manatees and dugongs are often mistaken for mermaids. For example, in 1493 when Columbus was sailing towards Haiti he had claimed to have seen three mermaids, but they were “not as pretty as they are depicted, for somehow in the face they look like men” (“Becoming Mermaids”). Mermaids are depicted in many forms of entertainment, from folklore, to art, to modern media. Mermaids have been a myth for many centuries and are now a popular topic used for entertainment and modern media such as television shows and movies.
The Commonalities between Mami Wata and Lasirèn
Mermaid folklore that come from various places in Europe, Africa, and the Americas have tiny details in common. The mermaids all carry combs and mirrors. This detail is carried from Europe to Africa, and then the Americas through merchant and slaves. A famous myth involves mermaids is Mami Wata, a popular and powerful African water spirit, who is often portrayed as a mermaid. She often would drown those who would disobey her, and as well as cause confusion, sickness, and visions in people she wanted to serve as her mediums. Many of her followers believed that she came from another dimension, a world with only water. In other parts of the world, the mermaid Lasirèn is a mermaid popular within the Caribbean Islands and parts of the Americas. Similar to Mami Wata, Lasirèn holds a comb and a mirror to admire herself. Lasirèn’s mirror is said to be the key to her underwater realm. Her name comes from the French word, sirène meaning “mermaid.” In Haiti, Lasirèn is seen as one of the three most powerful female water spirits (“Becoming Mermaids”).
Ancient Stories – Atargatis and Odysseus
There are many stories told about mermaids. One of the stories is about the Assyrian goddess Atargatis, the first mermaid. It is said that Atargatis had murdered the man she loved. She had felt extremely guilty and ashamed. As a result, she plunged into the ocean in hopes she would turn into a fish, but the ocean refused to, because her beauty was far too great. Instead, she became a mermaid (Bonnie L.). Another ancient myth about mermaids comes from the ancient Greeks, in the Odyssey. Odysseus had heard of the sirens that lived in the waters that he was...