In Greek mythology, Andromeda was the beautiful daughter of King Cepheus and Queen Cassiopea of Joppa, a kingdom often called Ethiopia by ancient writers. Cassiopea once boasted that Andromeda was more beautiful than the Nereids, a group of sea nymphs. Offended by this boast, the Nereids complained to the sea god Poseidon, who punished Joppa by sending a flood and a sea monster to ravage the land.

An oracle of Zeus* told Cepheus that the only way to save his kingdom was to chain Andromeda to a rock at the foot of a cliff and let the sea monster devour her. Cepheus did so, and Andromeda awaited her fate. While passing by, the hero Perseus* saw the chained Andromeda and fell in love with her. He asked Cepheus for her hand in marriage, and Cepheus agreed as long as Perseus would slay the sea monster.

As it happened, Perseus had just killed the Gorgon named Medusa and had her snake-entwined head in a bag. He showed the head to the sea monster, which immediately turned to stone. Unknown to Perseus, Cepheus had already promised Andromeda to her uncle Phineus. At the marriage feast for Perseus and Andromeda, Phineus showed up with a group of armed supporters and demanded that Andromeda be given to him. However, Perseus once again used the head of Medusa and turned Phineus and his men to stone.

nymph minor goddess of nature, usually represented as young and beautiful

oracle priest or priestess or other creature through whom a god is believed to speak; also the location (such as a shrine) where such words are spoken

Gorgon one of three ugly monsters who had snakes for hair, staring eyes, and huge wings

Perseus and Andromeda remained together for the rest of their lives, and they had six children. According to the Greek historian Herodotus, the kings of Persia were descended from their first son, Perses. When Andromeda and Perseus died, the goddess Athena* placed them in the sky as constellations, along with Andromeda's parents and the sea monster.

See also Athena ; Cassiopea ; Gorgons ; Greek Mythology ; Medusa ; Nymphs ; Perseus ; Poseidon ; Zeus .

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