Sirens vs. Mermaids

Yesterday I introduced writer me to friends and family on Facebook. Wow. The response was amazing, and I still have some residual wobbles going on, to be completely honest. But the show must go on, as they say, and business must be conducted as usual. So…

Next on the agenda is a promo team. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to put one together for the first book, just because there is already so much to do before release, but it’s never a bad idea to start laying the foundation for one, right?

As such, I’ve been thinking a lot about a name for my promo team. I thought about having Sirens in there somewhere, but Kerri’s Sirens doesn’t really sound all that cool. Street Sirens sounds even worse…

Anyway, while revisiting siren mythology, I noticed that a lot of the Google images I was seeing were of mermaids. Is there a difference, you ask? Oh, yes. There is a big difference.

Mermaids appeared in the folklore of many cultures, sirens were exclusive to Greek mythology. While they were both beautiful mythical creatures with enchanting singing voices who dwelled near the rocky shores of islands, sirens were, um, not as nice as mermaids.

Mermaids were humble and kind in nature, and always helpful to the sailors they lured in with their songs. Sometimes even selling their souls to awful sea witches named Ursula for a chance to fall in love with and marry princes named Eric.

 

Sirens were a bit less curious and a lot more…intense. They lured sailors to their deaths. Usually by shipwreck, which meant drowning and all sorts of other watery unpleasantness.

 

There are some physical differences as well. Contrary to popular belief, sirens are not part fish like mermaids. They are part bird. Also contrary to popular belief, although they convalesced near craggy cliffs and the like, they were not aquatic. Meaning, they did not live under the sea.

Sinister as they were, they didn’t  start out that way. They were said to originally have been the companions of Persephone, and that her mother Demeter, goddess of the harvest, gave them wings when Persephone was abducted by Hades so they could find her. When they failed, Demeter cursed them. They would die if any mortal was able to pass by their enchanting singing and survive.

Okay, that explains a lot. Their malicious intent was a matter of life of death for them. I suppose I’d be a bit intense as well.

Here’s an interesting fact, and a possible explanation why sirens seem to be depicted as a more vicious version of a mermaids. Hera, queen of the gods, persuaded (knowing Hera, probably more like commanded) the Sirens to enter a singing contest with the Muses. When the Sirens lost, the Muses plucked their feathers and made crowns from them.

Embarrassed and full of anguish at having lost, the Sirens turned white and fell into the sea at Aptera, which just so happens to mean “featherless.” Myth has it they formed the islands in the bay there called the Leukai, “the white ones.”

So there you have it, the difference between mermaids and sirens! Have a great weekend, everyone…and try to stay away from alluring craggy cliffs if possible. 🙂

 

Kerri

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