What were mermaids in Greek mythology? SLIDE 1 [Modern Mermaids] In Greek mythology, mermaids have their own name. Going off the typical top-half woman, bottom half fish concept, they do not really exist in Greek mythology. However, the idea of a naked seductress who dwells in the ocean does. In researching, I found that there were many variations. I was under the impression that nymphs and sirens were the same thing, but after close speculation I found that sirens were sometimes portrayed as half bird rather than fish, as can be seen in this Greek pottery. SLIDE 2 [Siren’s]
According to the website “Theoi Greek Mythology”, the Sirens were three sea nymphs who lured sailors to their death with a bewitching song. Mention of their song is quite common throughout many sources such as on Encyclopaedia Mythica, greek-gods. info and the book “The Classical world” Pg 73. According to both theoi and Helium, they were formerly handmaidens of the goddess Persephone. When the girl was secretly abducted by Haides, Demeter gave them the bodies of birds, and sent them to assist in the search of Persephone. They eventually gave up and settled on the flowery island of Anthemoessa.
After some time, some Argonauts passed by blocking their ears with wax so that they were not seduced by their song. Odysseus wanted to hear it so he had his men tie him to the mast. The Sirens were so distressed to see a man hear their song and yet escape, that they threw themselves into the sea and drowned. This story can be found in Homer’s 7th book. This is also the story depicted on the pottery. Now, the type of nymph that most resembles the modern-day concept of mermaids is the Haliais, more specifically; Nereids and Oceanids.
Haliai comes from the word for “sea” and also means “salt”. They are often also referred to as sea nymphs. SLIDE 3 [Haliais] According to the website Hellenica this is, Thetis (a Nereid) on a Hippocampus with the armour for Achilles. Like modern-day mermaid being associated with dolphins, Nereids were depicted with Hippocampus; hippo translating to horse, campus meaning fish-tailed. SLIDE 4 [More Hippocampus] Nymphs were seen as servants to gods, and in cases, sought after as protectors.
In the Greek tragedy, written around 5th Century BC by Sophocles, line 1470 says:” Now let us all leave together, once we have prayed to the nymphs of the sea to come be the guides of our safe return. ” It’s commonly said that there are 50 Nereids, as mentioned in the 24th Orphic Hymn to the Nereids written around 3rd Century B. C. to 2ndCentury A. D. ) Quote: “The Nereids fifty, who through the main delight to follow in the Tritones’ train” and so are later described to be playfully swimming with dolphins. SLIDE 5 [Oceanids] Now I will explain Oceanids known as the Nymphs of Artemis.
Encyclopaedia Mythica says that Oceanids were “the nymphs of the great ocean, the daughters of Oceanus and Tethys” which is backed up by Britannica, the online encyclopaedia. There were commonly said to be 3000 (also backed by Britannica) but in the Encyclopaedia Mythica, it says there were well over 4000 and on theoi is says they were a band of sixty, but I believe that in Greek Mythology there were thought to be 3000, especially since the Theogony of Hesiod agrees with this. So these are the three main mermaid-like creatures of Greek mythology; Sirens, Nereids and Oceanids.
I hope you were enlightened. Thank you. SLIDE 6 [The End] Bibliography Mysterious Myths About Mermaids, 2011, Hassam http://hassam. hubpages. com/hub/Mysterious-Myths-About-Mermaids Mermaids – Truth or Myth? , 2012, Moxy Women http://www. moxywomen. com/article. php? id=70 Mermaids are real! , 2011, William Bond http://mermaid-williambond. blogspot. com. au/? zx=94f963cb6558e29d The Mermaid, 2007, Scarlett DeMason http://www. whiterosesgarden. com/Enchanted_Waters/mermaid_article. htm Greek Pottery, 2012, The British Museum http://www. britishmuseum. rg/ Who were the sirens, 2008, Donita Weddle http://www. helium. com Nereids, n/a, Hellenica http://www. mlahanas. de/Greeks/Mythology/Nereids. html Carribean Mermaids, 2012, A13XANDER http://browse. deviantart. com/? order=9;q=mermaids;offset=24#/d3jos7p Seirenes, 2011, Aaron J. Atsma http://www. theoi. com/Pontios/Seirenes. html Siren, 2007, Myth Index http://www. mythindex. com/ List of Oceanids, 2012, Wikipedia http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/List_of_Oceanids Nymphs, 2012, N. S. Gill http://ancienthistory. about. com/od/godsandgoddesses/a/Nymphs. htm
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