Gabby sent my friend photos of his mermaid postcard collection. He was not yet ready to let it go, but was happy to share the images with us for the post “Of the sea…” and the images of mermaids in Berkeley yards.
Before getting to the mermaids, my friend got a short lecture from Gabby about mermaids.
Many people think that the sirens in the Odyssey were mermaids. In fact, there are some paintings that depict them as mermaids.
More often, they are shown as voluptuous, anthropomorphic women.
This is curious. In the text, they don’t tempt with sex, they tempt with knowledge: “Come this way, honored Odysseus, great glory of the Achaians, and stay your ship, so that you can listen here to our singing; for no one else has ever sailed past this place in his black ship until he has listened to the honey-sweet voice that issues from our lips; then goes on, well-pleased, knowing more than ever he did; for we know everything that the Argives and Trojans did and suffered in wide Troy through the gods’ despite. Over all the generous earth we know everything that happens.”
And, the early depictions of them show wings, not fish bodies. So – I’d say that the sirens were not mermaids.
With that off his chest, he sent these photos of his postcards:
My friend was happy with these photos. And, I think he was frankly mostly happy that Gabby hadn’t sent him the collection, just these photos. He is running out of room, and unlike Gabby he is not good at passing things on.
What, I asked, was his reaction to these mermaid photos, including Gabby’s lecture on sirens?