Saturday, April 16, 2011

N is for Neptune, Nymphs, Nereids, Naiads...and Nixies!

 Statue from the Acropolis Museum.  While the label indicates it may be 
Zeus or Poseidon, I have always preferred to think of it as Poseidon.

Neptune, or Poseidon Earth-shaker, started out as the god of freshwater bodies before moving out to sea.  One of the perks of this divine expansionism was, naturally, picking up more babes.  Especially beach babes.

Among the nymphs, or female godlings, were those associated with water: both the freshwater Naiads and the Mediterranean Nereids.*  Way before the annual Sports Illustrated Swimwear Issue, the association between water and hot women was ineradicably burned into the male psyche.  They were beautiful, elusive, yet dangerous.

by Kinuko Y. Craft

As the godlings of ancient days morph into the faeries of yesteryear, this trend continues.  The nixie is also gorgeous, wet, and dangerous, as the Rhine maidens in the Nibelungenlied demonstrate.  Now, contrast this with Lovecraft's Deep Ones and Deep One Hybrids.  Among them are females, they live in the water, and are dangerous.  But they are repulsive, not attractive.  Leaving the realm of Faerie for a scientific form of horror, we expect and find in Lovecraft science-friendly explanations for the origins of the Deep Ones and their mixed kin, and they behave like biological species are supposed to behave.  Yet the danger now is not a danger of attraction.  The danger is advertised on the surface, and thus represents a different kind of danger.  No longer do we have a wonder-fear, but a disgust-fear.  At the root, are two different forms of desire: the desire of grasping versus the desire of repulsing.  The focus on different desires would seem to produce very different fantasies.

The Birth of Cthulhu by Cyril Van Der Haegen

*NB The exclusion of Oceanids, Mermaids, Sirens, Undines, and other Ladies in the Water is only rhetorical, observed in the spirit of following the promotional support of the letter N, and is not meant to deny their rightful inclusion here.  (Please don't drown me.)