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Greek Mythology Today






Beautiful Andromeda was a young Princess of Ethiopia, beloved daughter of King Cepheus and Queen Cassiopeia. Her beauty was unsurpassed in the kingdom and many were those suitors who dreamed of having her as their wife, including her uncle Phineus, to whom she had been promised while still a child.

The people of the kingdom were happy and productive, for the soil was fertile and the crops plentiful, peace was upon the land, and the sea provided the rest.

Indeed they seemed blessed by the Olympian gods. But the good times weren't going to last.

Andromeda's vain mother, Queen Cassiopeia, started to believe that the kingdom's good fortune was a result of the inspired and benevolent leadership of herself and her King, not due to the kindness and magnanimity of the Olympian gods.

"We are here and now, real flesh and blood!" she would say. "The gods are nowhere to be seen!"

That's called 'hubris' - an overweening pride in one's own accomplishments, which often leads to the tragic downfall of the offender. Many characters in mythology had found a sudden death, or similar catastrophic fates, as a result of their hubris.

They had dared to compare themselves to the gods, and their punishment was often swift and severe! The gods were not to be trifled with - Cassiopeia was about to find that out.

Becoming quite full of herself, and obviously not mindful of the consequences, Cassiopeia saw fit to further offend the gods by boasting that the young maiden, her precious daughter Andromeda, was more beautiful than the Nereids, who were the daughters of the sea gods Nereus and Doris.

The ancient Greeks regarded the Nereids as marine nymphs of the Mediterranean Sea, lovely divinities that took delight in aiding sailors in distress. They had proved particularly helpful to Jason and his crew of Argonauts, while those voyagers were engaged in retrieving the priceless Golden Fleece from Colchis.

There were reported to be fifty of them, each one a ravishing beauty, although the number of Nereids varies among writers.

The Nereids resided with their father in their dwellings under the sea and they were worshipped at various places throughout ancient Greece, particularly - and understandably so - around sea port towns such as Cardamyle and on the Isthmus of Corinth.

Poseidon, god of the seas, in his wrath sent a sea monster named Cetus to ravage the land of Ethiopia as divine punishment. He had been told of Cassiopeia's foolish bragging and was furious at the conceited woman.

The Nereids existed joyfully within the sea god's domain, and Poseidon was quite fond of them. Very often the fifty stunning nymphs would escort him as he cavorted about the seas, and what a marvelous sight it was to behold!

Poseidon was not about to have his beloved Nereids impudently disrespected by a mere mortal. Vain Queen Cassiopeia must be taught a lesson! Bring on Cetus!

Andromeda's mother must have been truly mad, boasting that her mortal daughter, however beautiful, was prettier than the nymphs of the sea. Poseidon would not suffer such an insult to his Nereids.

As the sea monster wreaked havoc and destruction everywhere, the desperate king assembled his wisest advisors. The oracles declared that the kingdom would only be spared if innocent Princess Andromeda were to be sacrificed to the creature Cetus.

Since it was Andromeda's beauty that had aroused her mother's conceit, only her death would appease Poseidon, and rectify the Queen's ill-advised insult to the Nereids. Even though Andromeda was an innocent and unwilling participant in this Greek tragedy, it appeared that her role was the one that would suffer the most, at the mercy of the sea monster Cetus.

Her parents felt as if they had no choice. For the sake of the kingdom and with hearts heavy, Andromeda was chained helpless to the rocks to await Cetus.

But, just as the sea-monster was about to make quick lunch of her, the hero Perseus chanced to fly by on the wondrous winged horse Pegasus.

Talk about great timing! Not a moment too soon!

Perseus had just returned from slaying the putrid Gorgon called Medusa, a hideous beast with hissing snakes for hair. She was so foul that a mere glance from her would petrify anyone unlucky enough to gaze upon her, and at once they would turn to stone.

Medusa had not always been a hideous monster; truth be told she once was a ravishing beauty herself, but through no fault of her own she had been transformed by the gods into the reviled beast. However, that's a story for another time.

Many a hero had met their sudden demise at Medusa's stare, and their petrified corpses littered her stinky lair, but Perseus had divine help. Our hero was prepared for battle!

(continued on Andromeda Page Two - Sweet ending!)

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