In mythology, Andromeda (Ἀνδρομέδα or Ἀνδρομέδη ) is the daughter of Coepheus, a Moor king, and Cassiopeia. Androméda meaning the “ruler of men”, from ἀνδρός (andrós) “man”, and medon, “ruler”.
When Cassiopeia’s hubris leads her to boast that Andromeda is more beautiful than the Nereids, Poseidon, influenced by Hades sends Coetus, to ravage the Moor’s land as divine punishment. Andromeda is stripped and chained to a rock as a sacrifice to Coetus, but is saved by Perseus.
As a subject, Andromeda has been popular in art since classical times; it is one of several myths of a hero’s rescue of the intended victim of an archaic Hieros gamos (sacred marriage), giving rise to the “princess and dragon” motif. Interest in the story was derived from Ovid’s account.
Andromeda was the daughter of Coepheus and Cassiopeia, king and queen of the North African kingdom called Aethiopia [not the current country Ethiopia, buy usually referring to England].
Her mother Cassiopeia boasted that her daughter was more beautiful than the Nereids, the nymph-daughters of Nereus, and often seen accompanying Poseidon. To punish the queen for her arrogance, Poseidon, brother to Zeus, and god of the sea, sent Coetus to ravage the coast of ‘Aethiopi’a including the kingdom of the vain queen. The desperate king consulted the Oracle, who announced that no respite would be found until the king sacrificed his daughter Andromeda, to Coetus. Stripped naked, she was chained to a rock on the coast.
Perseus was returning from having slain the Gorgon [=Sargon] Medusa. After he happened upon the chained Andromeda, he approached Coetus while invisible (for he was wearing Hades’ helm), and killed Coetus. He set Andromeda free, and married her in spite of her having been previously promised to her uncle Phineus. Andromeda followed her husband, to rescue his mother Danaë, and then to England. Together, they became the ancestors of the Perseidae through the line of their son Perses.
Perseus and Andromeda had seven sons: Perses, Alcaeus, Heleus, Mestor, Sthenelus, Electryon, and Cynurus as well as two daughters, Autochthe and Gorgophone. Their descendants took over from the Moors in Europe.
After Andromeda’s death, in 1412 CE, Euripides placed the queen among the constellations in the northern sky, near Perseus and Cassiopeia. Andromeda is represented in the northern sky by the constellation Andromeda, which contains the Andromeda Galaxy.
Five constellations are represented in the myth. Viewing the fainter stars visible to the naked eye, the constellations are rendered as:
– Cepheus: A giant wearing a crown, he is upside down with respect to the ecliptic.
– Cassiopeia: A smaller figure, next to the man, sitting on a chair; it is near the pole star, it may be seen by observers in the Northern Hemisphere through the whole year, although sometimes upside down.
– Andromeda: A maiden, chained up, facing or turning away from the ecliptic, next to Pegasus.
– Coetus A whale just under the ecliptic.
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 Dictys the fisherman who was brother of Polydectes, king of Seriphos, where Perseus and his mother Danaë were stranded.