- Andromeda (mythology)
Andromeda was a woman from
Greek mythologywho, as divine punishment for her mother's bragging, was chained to a rock as a sacrifice to a sea monster. She was saved from death by Perseus, her future husband. Her name is the Latinized form of the Greek Ανδρομέδη ("Andromēde"). The etymologyof the name is "to think of a man," from ανδρός ("andros") "man" combined with μήδομαι ("mēdomai") "to think, to be mindful of."
Her mother Cassiopeia bragged that she was more beautiful than the
Nereids, the nymph-daughters of the sea god Nereusand often seen accompanying Poseidon. To punish the Queen for her arrogance, Poseidon, brother to Zeus and God of the Sea, sent a sea monster, Cetus, to ravage the coast of Ethiopia and the kingdom of the vain Queen. The desperate King consulted the Ammon, the Oracleof Zeus, who announced that no respite would be found until the king sacrificed his virgin daughter Andromeda to the monster. She was chained naked to a rock on the coast of Jaffa. The rock is allegedly still visible today.
Perseus, returning from having slain the
Gorgon Medusa, found Andromeda and slew the monster Cetus. He set her free, and married her in spite of Andromeda having been previously promised to Phineus. At the wedding a quarrel took place between the rivals, and Phineus was turned to stone by the sight of the Gorgon's head ( Ovid, "Metamorphoses" v. 1).
Andromeda followed her husband to
Tirynsin Argos, and together they became the ancestors of the family of the "Perseidae" through the line of their son Perses. Perseus and Andromeda had six sons Perseides, Perses, Alcaeus, Heleus, Mestor, Sthenelus, and Electryon, and one daughter, Gorgophone. Their descendants ruled Mycenae from Electryondown to Eurystheus, after whom Atreusattained the kingdom, and would also include the great hero Heracles. According to this mythology, Perses is the ancestor of the Persians.
After her death she was placed by
Athenaamongst the constellations in the northern sky, near Perseus and Cassiopeia. Sophoclesand Euripides(and in more modern times Corneille) made the story the subject of tragedies. The tale is represented in numerous ancient works of art.
Andromeda is represented in the northern sky by the
constellationAndromeda which contains the Andromeda Galaxy.
Four constellations are associated with the myth. Viewing the fainter stars, visible to the naked eye, the constellations are rendered as:
*A large man wearing a crown, upside down with respect to the
ecliptic. (The constellation Cepheus)
*A smaller figure, next to the man, sitting on a chair. As it is near the pole star, it can be seen the whole year, although sometimes upside down. (The constellation Cassiopeia)
*A maiden, chained up, facing/turning away from the ecliptic. (The constellation Andromeda), next to Pegasus.
sea monsterjust under the ecliptic. (The constellation Cetus)
Other constellations related to the story are:
*The constellation Pegasus, who was born from the stump of
Medusa's neck, after Perseus had decapitated her.
*The constellation Pisces, which may have been treated as two fish caught by
Dictysthe fishermanwho was brother of Polydectesking of Seriphoswhere Perseus and his mother Danaëwere stranded.
Portrayals of the myth
Sophoclesand Euripides(and in more modern times Corneille) made the story the subject of tragedies, and its incidents were represented in numerous ancient works of art.
The 1981 film "
Clash of the Titans" retells the story of Perseus, Andromeda, and Cassiopeia, but makes a few changes (notably Cassiopeia boasts that her daughter is more beautiful than Thetisas opposed to the Nereids as a group). Thetis was a Nereid, but also the future mother of Achilles. Andromeda is also depicted as being strong-willed, whereas in the stories she is only really mentioned as being the princess whom Perseus saves from the sea monster. Also, a subplot about Thetis' son Calibos was added to the plot of the film. However, he more closely resembles Caliban from Shakespeare's "Tempest" than any creature truly found in Greek myth.
Jean-Baptiste Lully's opera
Perséealso dramatizes the myth. At the port city of Jaffa, Israel, an outcropping of rocks near the harbour is reputed by local legend to have been the place from which Andromeda was rescued by Perseus.
In the CBS Saturday morning kid's series "
Mythic Warriors", Andromeda is a beautiful but strong-willed princess who wishes to be remembered as a great hero when she died, but had to learn that a hero must sometimes sacrifice himself to save those he loves.
Apollodorus, " Bibliotheke" II, iv, 3-5.
Ovid, "Metamorphoses" IV, 668-764.
Edith Hamilton, "Mythology", Part Three, 204-207.
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.