misophist - Grimm Bros. lawyers? - They were registered at Marburg University as students of jurisprudence (1802 and 1803). Jacob served his native country as member of the War Council and private librarian to king Jérome Bonaparte. In 1848 he was member of the Frankfurt Parliament.
Both were librarians in Kassel, the North Hessian Metropolis, and started as a sort of early "mudcatters", collecting German folk songs (still not yet published) like their friends Arnim and Brentano (published their famous collection "Des Knaben Wunderhorn" = the boy's magic horn).
Soon they were called to Goettingen (the university of Hanover) as professors for German philology.
Jeanie - Thanks for the Meerhase picture. This is no mythological animal like Pegasus et al., but a fiction of seafaring people spinning their yarns to baffle the landlubbers. Style of the image leads to 16th century.
CapriUni - You're right, we have to look up the word in older dictionaries of their time. In Grimms' own dictionary the entry Meerhase is a reference to Adelungs dictionary (18th century): Here it's the bloody fish (lumpus) again.
Your'e also right in your statement about the logic in fairy tales. Some times we consider as magic what we don't understand anymore. In the "fairy" tales we find believings and everyday life of our ancestors; calendar stories and initiation rites going back till the late stone age.
"meers-", correctly Meer- is used to denote everything which has a connection to the Ocean first. The Meerschweincen (guinea pig) is the only case in German I know where Meer- is used for an animal coming a long way over the sea, not out of it.