The concept of women leading men to their doom is pre-Christian. Some of the better known were Sirens who according to Greek mythology were half-bird, half-woman creatures who would captivate sailors with their beautiful song, lulling them to sleep and seducing them to alter the course of their boat towards the rocks.
We are not sure how the transition to half-fish, half-woman, took place but the representation of the mermaid as a temptress was a popular myth, one that was lovingly depicted by the misericord carvers at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle. Two different depictions of the mythical creature are displayed on the fronts of the upper rank of stall seats on the north side of the Choir: one mermaid holding the tools of enticement, the comb and mirror, and the other sitting on a rock with a moored boat carrying a banner of St George in the bow.
Enid (Assistant Archivist)