Friday, 4 December 2020

Friday 4th December - The Kiss of the Siren

We all know it's a bit risky to have a bit of a snog with someone you don't know very well.  Even without the pandemic, smooching with a stranger can often lead to complications and cold sores.  Even worse, if you are a sailor, it can lead to a wrecked ship and drowning, all for the chance of a kiss from a lovely naked sea-lady. Mind you, I bet even as Bob the mariner here sinks to his watery grave, he'll be thinking Completely worth it...

The Kiss of the Siren (1882) Gustav Wertheimer

I don't know what is up with mermaids.  Are they just really radical, strident feminists? Are they are all psychotic? What's with all the drowning?

The Fisherman and the Syren (1856-58) Frederic Leighton

Done for, no doubt about it...

Mermaids' Rock (c.1894) Edward Matthew Hale

There's another boat gone...

The Depths of the Sea (1887) Edward Burne-Jones

And you should be ashamed of yourself, young lady.  Really, it is no way to carry on.  Although present in some form in most folklore, writers seem to agree that mermaids came from the idea of the Sirens of Greek myths, luring men to their deaths with their beautiful song, although Sirens tended to look like this...

Ulysses and the Sirens (1891) John William Waterhouse

As my Grandma always said, it doesn't matter if you are not the prettiest girl, as long as you have a nice singing voice.  Obviously, at some point in legend, the girls stopped being mostly bird and started being half fish, but still as homicidally naughty.  I read with interest that the Assyrian goddess Atargatis transformed into a mermaid after flinging herself into a lake in shame after accidentally killing her human lover.  Mermaid on the whole seem to have taken the wrong lesson away from that and merrily bump off any handsome chap they come into contact with for funsies. By and large, despite the rather fatal inconvenience, the men involved don't really seem to mind at all.  

If you go swimming in armour, mermaids are the least of your problems...

I have quite a nice singing voice, well I'm really loud and that's half the battle, so I suspect I have missed a career in the mermaid business.  Mermaids always look quite happy in their work, there is no sitting-at-a-desk business, so I wouldn't have the lower back issues I suffer from and swimming is very good for you. Do you think they have drowning quotas? Do you get bonuses for the most sailors perished in a quarter?  

It definitely is something to think about, so I'll see you tomorrow...


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