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Post  Admin on 10/27/2008, 1:35 am


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

For the 1990 movie Mermaids, see Mermaids (movie)
The statue of The Little Mermaid, a monument to Hans Christian Andersen, in Copenhagen harbour.

A mermaid is a legendary creature with a female human head and torso (if it's male, it's called a merman) and the tail of a fish, which inhabits the water.
One freshwater mermaid-like creature (sometimes having two fish tails, other times having the body of a dragon or serpent) is the character Melusine. Sirens in folklore are similar creatures to mermaids. Other related types of mythical or legendary creature are water nymphs.
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Legend and myth

A mermaid looks up at the legs of a swimmer; 1921 cartoon

Tales of mermaids are nearly universal. The first known mermaid stories appeared in Assyria, ca. 1000 BCE. Atargatis, the mother of legendary Assyrian queen Semiramis, was a goddess who loved a mortal shepherd and in the process killed him. Ashamed, she jumped into a lake to take the form of a fish, but the waters would not conceal her divine nature. Thereafter, she took the form of a mermaid - human above the waist, fish below, though the earliest representations of Atargatis showed her as being a fish with a human head and legs, similar to the Babylonian Ea. The Greeks recognized Atargatis under the name Derketo, where she was often conflated with Aphrodite.
Lucian of Samosata in Syria (2nd century CE) in De Dea Syria ("Concerning the Syrian Goddess") wrote of the Syrian temples he had visited:

"Among them - Now that is the traditional story among them concerning the temple. But other men swear that Semiramis of Babylonia, whose deeds are many in Asia, also founded this site, and not for Hera Atargatis but for her own Mother, whose name was Derketo"
"I saw the likeness of Derketo in Phoenicia, a strange marvel. It is woman for half its length, but the other half, from thighs to feet, stretched out in a fish's tail. But the image in the Holy City is entirely a woman, and the grounds for their account are not very clear. They consider fishes to be sacred, and they never eat them; and though they eat all other fowls, they do not eat the dove, for she is holy so they believe. And these things are done, they believe, because of Derketo and Semiramis, the first because Derketo has the shape of a fish, and the other because ultimately Semiramis turned into a dove. Well, I may grant that the temple was a work of Semiramis perhaps; but that it belongs to Derketo I do not believe in any way. For among the Egyptians, some people do not eat fish, and that is not done to honor Derketo." (Part 2:ch14 )
Mami Wata is a mermaid spirit in the traditional beliefs of many West African peoples. Another African mermaid is the Jengu of Cameroon.
It is said in Japan that eating the flesh of a mermaid can grant unaging immortality.
In some European legends mermaids are said to grant wishes.[edit]


Mermaids are present in many books and films, becoming one of the most popular creatures of pop culture. The first time a mermaid was envisioned within her own culture was apparently the one in The Little Mermaid of Hans Christian Andersen. This mermaid was embodied in a bronze sculpture in Copenhagen harbour and much later was turned into a Disney movie of the same name. The Anderson tale was also portrayed in the Faerie Tale Theatre series and other (less well known) movies.
"Madison" from the movie Splash

In Splash (1984), starring Daryl Hannah and Tom Hanks, Hannah played a mermaid who fell in love with a man. She could walk dry land as a human female, but whenever water touched her legs they changed into a fish-tail. Much of the movie revolves around her humorous attempts to conceal her true identity from her lover. A television series followed called Splash, Too in 1988.
Miranda, starring Glynis Johns, is another popular movie to feature a mermaid. She Creature (2001) featured a villainous mermaid who seemed to have a taste for human flesh and lesbian tendencies.
A made-for-cable movie, Mermaids, starring Nikita Ager, Sarah Laine and Erika Heynatz aired on the PAX network in 2003. It was about a trio of mermaid sisters that solve their father's murder.
Advertising characters from television commercials include the Chicken of the Sea Mermaid who is the cartoon mascot for a brand of tuna and other products.
Mermaids are also featured in Hook, Magic Island and the upcoming film adaptations of The Chronicles of Narnia. Mermaids and mermen (called merpeople) are present in the Harry Potter series, specifically in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
L. Frank Baum (creator of Oz) wrote a novel about merfolk, The Sea Fairies.
For many years, The comic book hero Superman had a romantic love interest with a mermaid woman called Lori Lemaris. The name Lori Lemaris was probably drawn from Lorelei rock in the Rhine added to maris from the Latin mare meaning ocean.
Mermaids are also fictional creatures in the Dungeons and Dragons game. They are the females of the merfolk race. The males are known as mermen.[edit]


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Re: Mermaid

Post  Admin on 10/27/2008, 1:39 am


'Mermaid'-like miscarried fetus

A rare congenital disorder can result in a child with legs fused together and the genitalia reduced. Because of the similarity to the legendary mermaids, it is called "mermaid syndrome" or "sirenomelia". This condition, though is about as rare as conjoined twins and is usually fatal within a day or two of birth because of kidney and bladder complications. There are two known survivors of this disorder alive today.[edit]


In the 19th century, P. T. Barnum displayed in his museum a taxidermy hoax that was represented as the Feejee (sic) Mermaid. Others have pervaded similar hoaxes.[edit]


Coat of Arms of Warsaw

In heraldry, the charge of a mermaid is commonly represented with a comb and a mirror, and blazoned as a 'mermaid in her vanity.'
A shield and sword-wielding mermaid (Syrenka) is the official Coat of Arms of Warsaw, the capital of Poland.[edit]

See also


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