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Pirate legends and myths


Date Posted: 13 December 2010

Rejoicing upon the announcement of "Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" releasing in May 2011, here are some legends to quench the thirst of all pirate lovers out there.

Brethren Of The Coast

Was there an organised pirate government? Well, no.

This is especially true of the depiction of a pirate government formed by nine pirate lords in "Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World's End" and led by the one voted majority as "The Pirate King".

Despite the legends in books and movies, no real pirate government existed.

The Brethren of the Coast is simply a term applied to pirates and smugglers living in frontier settlements away from formal jurisdiction.

While some like to think of the Brethren as a government it is probably wiser to compare the term brethren to gangster.

Calypso

A Greek sea nymph, she was the daughter of Atlas and primarily known as the goddess of silence.

She was also known as the goddess of deception because of her ability to distract sailors with her beauty, only to lead them to ruin and destruction because they failed to pay attention to what they were supposed to be doing.

A new back story is created for Calypso in the "Pirates Of The Caribbean" movies where she is shown as Tia Dalma, a witch that helped Jack Sparrow and crew in "At World's End" thus playing a pivotal role in the trilogy.

Cats

Seafarers were a superstitious lot where during the Golden Age of Piracy (and still in some circles today), they considered the possession of black cats as a sign of good luck.

It was a common practice for the loved ones of a merchant marine to keep a black cat in the house while he was at sea for it was believed that as long as the cat was well fed and kept safe from harm, nothing would happen to the mariner.

Sailors also kept cats onboard their ships to bring luck.

On a more practical note, the cat would help keep down the rodent population and the cat on a ship is usually referred to as the "Ship's Cat".

Davy Jones' Locker

Davy Jones was sailor slang for the Devil or other evil spirits of the ocean whereas Davy's Locker or Davy Jones' Locker was the deep ocean's bottom.

To be sent to Davy's Locker was to perish at sea, to send someone to Davy Jones was to kill him or her while it should be understood that a person going to Davy Jones usually was not going to Heaven.

To give credit where it is due, the movie "Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" gives a back story for the creation of Davy Jones.

This is a piece of original fiction created for the movie and not part of the myth over the years.


The Flying Dutchman as depicted in "Pirates Of The Caribbean" movies.
The Flying Dutchman

The Dutchman is a ghost ship that can never return to port for some reason.

Most people attribute the ship to Dutch Captain named Bernard Fokke, who had a habit of breaking his own speed records while sailing between Holland and the Dutch East Indies. People claimed he must have made a pact with the Devil in order to make his trips so quickly.

Well ol' Bernie ran into a tempest as he was rounding the Cape of Good Hope but refused to give into the storm and the ship was lost with all hands aboard.

Since then, Flying Dutchman has made repeated appearances on "Sponge Bob Square Pants", the "Pirates Of The Caribbean" trilogy, and numerous screen adaptations under the title Flying Dutchman or De Vliegende Hollander dating from as early as 1923.

 


The green flash as seen in "Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World's End"
Green Flash

The green flash is a naturally occurring phenomenon where there is sudden flash of emerald green light as the sun sets. This can happen when the horizon and the sky are both crystal clear.

One of the biggest myths of the green flash was created by Jules Vernes who wrote the "20,000 Leagues Under The Sea" novel.

He claimed it to be an old Scottish legend that 'if one was to peer in the light of the green flash they would gain the power to read the very souls of other people they meet'.

In "Pirates Of The Caribbean", the Flying Dutchman appears and disappears in a blink of the Green Flash.

 


The 'Kraken' trying to engulf Captain Jack Sparrow in "Dead Man's Chest"
Kraken

The Kraken is an enormous monster capable of pulling a ship and its crew under the sea in a single jerk and it has been around in movies for a while but it was not called a kraken in any of the movies until "Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" released.

The kraken also appeared in Mysterious Island and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, stories written by Jules Verne.

The kraken was always described as giant squid or octopus and was always considered mythical, typically measuring as much as 200 or 300 feet in length.

No matter how you describe this giant cuttlefish, it is believed to haunt the waters of the Caribbean. Or so the myth goes.

 


Astrid Berges-Frisbey will surely make an enticing mermaid.
Mermaids/Sirens

Mermaids are imaginary, partly human sea creatures with the head and chest of a woman and the tail of a fish or cetacean.

Originally, the Sirens of Greek mythology were simply beautiful women but later portrayals show them as mermaids. In some languages, the word sirena is used interchangeably with mermaid.

In the earlier legends, Mermaids would seduce or lure men to their death - sometimes on purpose and other times by accident.

As early as the 1500s, there was conjecture that manatees were the source of the mermaid myth because they like to float along the ocean surface in relatively shallow water and are not overly scared of humans or large ships.

Pirates Wikia revealed that the mermaid legend will be featured in the upcoming "Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" movie and it will be played by a French actress Astrid Berges-Frisbey.


The oarfish, believed to be the origins of the sea serpents.
Sea Serpents

A sea-monster of serpentine form and great length, frequently reported to have been seen at sea. In the 18th century, the sea-serpent was more akin to a giant snake.

Early sceptics dismissed sea-serpents as tricks of light and lumps of sargassum (sea weed). Others claimed the sighting to be whales, schools of fish, dolphins and seals.

As with the kraken, the sea-serpent may actually be a living deep-sea creature, however smaller than the accounts given by sailors of old.

As with the kraken, the sea-serpent may actually be a living deep-sea creature, however smaller than the accounts given by sailors of old.

Sea Sprite

A ghost of the sea. They haunt ships that have troubled pasts, such as mutinies or perhaps a ship that had a cruel master who was murdered or was believed to be in league with the Devil.

Occasionally, a sprite will bring warning of impending doom or warn sailors to stay out of the waters but most tend to be vengeful and or troublesome. The word sprite dates back to the 1500s and is an alteration of the word "spirit".

Pirates would often offer a blessing to men they marooned or toss a man overboard in an effort to bring rest to the soul of the condemned. If the person's soul did not find rest, it was feared they would return from Davy Jones as a sea sprite.

Writer: Anne Jamaludin



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