What is a Mermaid?
A: In folklore, a mermaid is an aquatic creature with the head and upper body of a female human and the tail of a fish.
Mermaids appear in the folklore of many cultures
worldwide, including what?
A: Europe, Asia, and Africa.
Mermaids are sometimes associated with perilous events
such as what?
A: Floods, storms, shipwrecks, and drownings.
In other folk traditions (or sometimes within the same
traditions), they can be what?
A: Benevolent or beneficent, bestowing boons or falling in love with humans.
The male equivalent of the mermaid is what?
A: The merman, also a familiar figure in folklore and heraldry.
Although traditions about and sightings of mermen are
less common than those of mermaids, they are generally assumed to what?
A: Co-exist with their female counterparts.
The male and the female collectively are sometimes
referred to what?
A: Merfolk or merpeople.
The Western concept of mermaids as beautiful, seductive
singers may have been influenced by what?
A: The Sirens of Greek mythology.
The sirens were originally half-birdlike but came to be
pictured as what?
A: Half-fishlike in the Christian era.
Historical accounts of mermaids, such as those reported
by Christopher Columbus during his exploration of the Caribbean, may have
A: Sightings of manatees or similar aquatic mammals.
There is no evidence that mermaids exist outside
folklore, however reports of mermaid sightings continue to when?
A: The present day.
Mermaids have been a popular subject of art and
literature in recent centuries, such as in what?
A: Hans Christian Andersen's literary fairy tale "The Little Mermaid" (1836).
They have subsequently been depicted in what?
A: Operas, paintings, books, comics, animation, and live-action films.
The English word "mermaid" is not very old, with the
earliest attestation in what?
A: Middle English (Chaucer, Nun's Priest's Tale, c. 1390).
The compound word is formed from what?
A: "mere" (sea), and "maid".
When did the siren of Ancient Greek mythology becoame
conflated with mermaids?
A: During the medieval period.
In the early Greek period, the sirens were conceived of
A: Human-headed birds, but by the classical period, the Greeks sporadically depicted the siren as part fish in art.
The siren's part-fish appearance became increasingly
popular during what?
A: The Middle Ages.
The traits of the classical sirens, such as using their
beautiful song as a lure as told by Homer, has often been what?
A: Transferred to mermaids.
Depictions of entities with the upper bodies of humans
and the tails of fish appear in Mesopotamian what?
A: Artwork from the Old Babylonian Period onwards, on cylinder seals.
In the 2nd century AD, Lucian described seeing a
Phoenician statue of Derceto with what?
A: The upper body of a woman and the tail of a fish.
The Norman chapel in Durham Castle, built around 1078,
has what is probably what?
A: The earliest surviving artistic depiction of a mermaid in England.
It can be seen on a south-facing capital above what?
A: One of the original Norman stone pillars.