Kathryn Flaherty

Writer, Reader, Truck Driver and Fairy Floss Maker

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Mermaids May Be Related To Harpies

While looking up mermaids for a story I’m working on I found a strange legend. I love a good mermaid story, the original ending of Hans Christian Anderson’s Little Mermaid is one of my all time favourites. For a possible start to the legend I like the idea of a bunch of horny sailors seeing a Dugong. But that has nothing to do with what I just read. I felt like reading something totally over the top crazy so I cracked open a book on Greek Mythology. The Greeks probably didn’t invent the idea of mermaids but they gave them an awesome origin story.

You can choose which one to start with.

A-They were Persephone’s handmaids who allowed their mistress to be kidnapped by Pluto/Hades.

B- They were the Daughters of the river Achelous and the Muses.

C- They were born from the blood which spurted out when Hercules ripped the Horn of Plenty from Achelous’s head.

D- They were Daughter’s of Aphrodite.

After their birth they didn’t have tails or fins or serpentine coils. They had legs and were fair of face until they royally pissed off one of the gods or goddesses. Then they got cursed with claws as strong as a lions and wings. Yep, mermaids had wings which they used to swoop down on people and carry them away. That sounds a bit like harpies to me.

Now some of these winged beings got into a singing contest with the Muses and being a bit dumb they won. You would think being cursed would be enough of a stay away warning. But not for our future mermaids, nope they sang, they won and had their wings torn from their backs by the Muses. Their feathers ended up in a good home, the Muses used them to make themselves new crowns. A nice way to say we’re the best and see what happens if you think otherwise.

Without their wings these women sought refuge in the waves of the ocean, some died by throwing themselves from their rocks and turning to stone in the water. The others after they finished turning the ocean to salt with their tears grew into the mermaids we know.

I don’t know if this is true to one of the original myths or legends or just a made up story that someone used to fill up the mermaid section in their book. Either way I like the idea of early mermaids have a harpy like appearance and possibly being a bit vindictive as well as kind of stupid.

This post is a few weeks late. I didn’t do very well with trying to post every week. In my defence I have been in the middle of a lot of rain for the past few weeks. The work site I was at was flooded twice so sitting in front of the computer was the last thing on my to do list.