Mermaid legends are found in many cultures worldwide- they seem to hold an ancient fascination for man. But famous mermaids? We mean other than Cher in Mermaids of course. We'd vote for the following:
Mermaids in the Near East:
One of the first known mermaids was the goddess Atargatis, mother of Assyrian queen Semiramis, who fell in love with a shepherd and killed him by mistake (whoops). Gutted, she threw herself into a lake to become a fish, but ended up being half goddess half fish instead—human above the waist, fish below. The Greeks called her Maria or Μαρία along with many of the other females in Greece. or at least some did, and others called her Atargatis Derketo. Still up for the Mermaids lesson, or would you like to play Mermaids Millions instead (!). Come on, read on. Get those grey cells working.
Then a Greek legend recounts how Alexander the Great's sister, Thessalonike, morphed into a mermaid after she died. She lived in the Aegean Sea eating Tuna and jellyfish and when she saw a ship, she asked its sailors "Is King Alexander alive?" to which the correct answer was: "Is King Alexander a Live What?"
This answer confused her and she'd sort of furrow her fishy brow, and purse her salty lips and you'd have time to skeedaddle. You could also say ""He lives and reigns and conquers the world" which would also let you off the hook 9 times out of ten. Anything else, such as "King Alexander's expired and gone to meet his maker! He's a stiff! He no longer swims with the school, Babe, he's bereft of life, and rests in peace! He's kicked the bucket, he's about to be steamed or oven baked, he's shuffled off his mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleeding choir invisible!" would send her off in a fit of rage shouting:
"Hear Me Ye Muppets. The streams of the righteous man are beset on all banks by the inequities of the shell fish and the tin and sea of evil men. Blessed is he who in the name of charity and Bill shepherds the meek through the valley of shaftness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and a finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brother even though he hasn't moved for a bit. And you will know my name is The Salonike when I lay my bent ants upon thee.", and it would be Typhoon in Med time.
The beautiful mermaids from Scots folklore ate deep fried Mars Bars AND had fantastic figures. They were no slouches in the pool either, but a word of warning- don't mess with them . I don't know about her Glaswegian kisses, but In Scottish mythology, a mermaid is called the ceasg or "maid of the wave" and often goes around slaughtering men (and children).
"The Little Mermaid" (Danish: Den lille havfrue,) is perhaps the most famous mermaid story by the Danish poet Hans Christian Andersen about a girl who falls in love with a prince and gives up her life in the sea and her mermaidness to become human.
Conceived originally as a ballet, the story was first published in 1837.
The most famous Mermaid story? Probably.....