Perseus and Andromeda

March 22, 2015

Astronomy, History

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chairCassiopeia the Queen

She was the very beautiful queen of ancient Ethiopia. By all accounts men were mesmerized by her perfectly chiseled features, like she had really nice thighs and stuff. But this was before selfies so she spent most of her time sitting in a “W” shaped chair gazing at her face in a mirror, bragging about her cheek bones. She proclaimed to be more beautiful than the Nereids, which were sea nymphs. That was a bit much because sea nymphs were considered smokin’ hot, even by other types of nymphs. Poseidon was pretty proud of the sea nymphs. He was the original nymphomaniac you could say. So he demanded that Cassiopeia be punished.

Cetus the Sea Monster

The order was given to release The Kraken. Is that something they did often? I mean, all Cassie did was brag a little. Did they release The Kraken for parking tickets in those days? Maybe The Kraken spent most of his time released, I don’t know. But obviously The Kraken was a bad ass because he had a title that started with “The” whereas his real name, the one his mother gave him, was Cetus. No one dared call him Cetus though. If you called him Cetus he would get released and then you had to give him your daughter or something. He would show up in your town, get drunk, trash his hotel room and leave without paying, that sort of thing. But this time he was set to trash the whole town unless some negotiated settlement could be reached.
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Actually I’m assuming Cetus was a she-monster. Well, maybe it was a he-monster, I don’t know for sure. It’s so hard to tell with monsters but The Kraken did give birth to several other monsters including a three-headed dog and a nine-headed hydra. Multiple headedness tends to run in monster families.

Cassiopeia decided that to save her town she would have to feed the lovely princess Andromeda to Cetus the hideous squiddly sea creature. That’s how things were done in those days. It paid to have a few spare daughters around. So Andromeda was chained to a rock where The Kraken couldn’t miss her, right out front by the boat docks, with a big sign that said “Take the girl, leave us alone.”

Andromeda the Princess

She was the daughter of Queen Cassiopeia and King Cepheus. She had a boyfriend named Agenor who was kind of lame as far as boyfriends go. He didn’t pay enough attention to her and preferred instead to hang out with his men. Agenor and the boys were always travelling off to faraway places where they would wrassle with each other and compare their swords.
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It was all arranged for Andromeda to marry Agenor but then she met Perseus who was totally buff and she would go all weak-kneed and say silly things when he came around like “Oh mighty powerful, will you open this jar for me?” But he was a klutz and would drop the jar. Luckily for Perseus, Zeus was always watching over him and doing little things to help him out like magically repairing jars, or giving him a flying horse, which always impresses the ladies.

NS70_NS70L_65D26R_65D26L_Perseus_brand_JISPerseus the Hero of Argolis

King Acrisius locked his daughter Danaë in a tower after hearing a prophecy that she would bear a son who would someday cause his death and also because his brother, her uncle, had sworn he would know her in a totally inappropriate and creepy way. Meanwhile Zeus, king of all the gods, fell in love with Danaë. Her prison had one little window so Zeus was able to rain down on her as, and I’m not making this part up, “a golden shower.” Well, a golden shower from Zeus himself is enough to get anybody pregnant with a hero child so she bore a son, Perseus.

This was typical, for gods to get a virgin pregnant by perhaps the golden shower method, or by tricking her into swallowing something magical, or maybe a god would briefly turn her and himself into frisky barnyard animals, or by some other tactic equally devious. Many legends of the gods are not much more than a celestial porno, more or less. Let’s face it, the moons of our solar system wouldn’t even have names if the Temple of Olympus wasn’t essentially an eternal toga party at a Greek fraternity.

perseus-medusa-91221Meanwhile King Acrisius assumed that the new baby’s father must be the creepy uncle. He locked both mother and baby Perseus in a wooden box and put them out to sea to sink or, well, to sink. He didn’t want to murder his daughter and grandchild so by nailing them shut in a box he could say “Hey, I didn’t kill them they were alive last time the tide went out so blame the ocean I’ll just be over here doing kingly stuff.” But of course the wooden box didn’t sink, as it never does in stories like this. They drifted to an island where a fisherman named Dictys wound up rescuing them.

When Perseus grew up he had to defend his mother from the local king, who was related to Perseus because pretty much everyone in this story is related. That king wanted Danaë for his wife which led to much misunderstanding, hilarity, and shenanigans, and to make a super long story reasonably short, Perseus had to go fetch the head of Medusa, whose head was thought unfetchable.

Medusa

She was part of a girl band known as The Gorgon Sisters and was once a maiden fair. But life and the gods made her into a maiden unfair. She had sworn to remain a virgin but one night things got out of hand, and one hand led to another, and the next thing you know her hair turned into a bunch of snakes and anyone who looked her in the face turned to stone. Let that be a lesson to our daughters.

Perseus_beheading_Medusa_by_Seth_MartiniPerseus set about the task of killing Medusa with the help of Athena and other gods. Athena gave him a shield that was shiny like a mirror. By walking backwards and looking at Medusa’s reflection instead of gazing upon her directly, he avoided being turned to stone. As ugly as she was with snake hair and all, the effect was softened in her reflection, unless I suppose you viewed her reflection under florescent lighting, the gods forbid you should go to into a public restroom and be denied the stark contrast of a single blemish on your nose.

When Perseus severed her head, two winged horses flew from her neck, Pegasus, and Chrysaor. The first one, Pegasus, was definitely the nicer and more manageable of the two. Perseus put the head of Medusa in a bag. Apparently he travelled with a special bag just in case he needed to carry something gross like that. He flew off on Pegasus in search of additional episodes.
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And So On
Back home the king had kidnapped Perseus’ mom, Danaë. He had a small army attack Perseus but the hero used the Medusa head to turn them all to stone and rescued mom. So for the moment everyone rejoiced, except for Medusa, and the army guys, and the wanker king.

Flying around on Pegasus, Perseus looked down below and saw the lovely princess Andromeda chained to a rock and about to be sacrificed to you know who. Perseus swooped down to the castle and offered to kill The Kraken in exchange for Andromeda’s hand in marriage. Even from up in the air he had seen that Andromeda had beautiful thighs like her mother. Cassiopeia and Cepheus saw no downside to the deal; get rid of a monster and a daughter either way.
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Perseus flew up to The Kraken’s face and said “Hey Cetus, this hero-rescue-the-girl plot-line is old and worn out, like your mom.” Then after a few klutzy miscues, Perseus finally showed the head of the one monster to the other monster. Well I’ll tell you what, that old Medusa head was no prettier dead than it was alive, like a combination of slimy snake hair and bad bed-head, especially after bouncing around in a bag on the back of flying horse for a few days.

ointmentCetus (everyone can call him that now that he is dead) took one look at the snake hair head and turned into solid stone. He fell back into the water which created a big wave that knocked down a few buildings along the waterfront but overall it was pretty mild damage considering.

After dispatching the sea monster, Percy married Andie and then Peggy flew them both back to the island where Percy had been raised by the fisherman, Dick.

Many years later, during the funeral games of a neighboring king, Perseus entered the discus competition and, like a klutz, threw a discus that landed in a crowd of spectators, killing Acrisius his grandfather, thus fulfilling the prophesy that King Acrisius would die at the hand of Danaë’s son. Don’t be messing with the oracle.

Before any more prophetic glory could come to pass, Cassiopeia plotted with her daughter’s ex-fiancée Agenor to kill Perseus. That’s another one of those “just how things were done in those days.” Perseus used the Medusa’s head to turn Cassiopeia, Agenor, and all of his men to stone. You would think they would have caught on to this trick eventually and all got shiny shields.
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Look for the whole gang in the autumn sky. The constellations of Queen Cassiopeia and King Cepheus are facing feet-to-feet so they can never speak to each other because of her being kind of a bitch and all. Also, since the queen insulted the sea nymphs she never sets below the surface of the sea (as seen from northern latitudes, your mileage may vary). There’s lots of cool telescope targets like the double cluster of Perseus and the Andromeda galaxy. There is also a large dark oval area called the Cetus Void. The Kraken is down there. Try not to release him.
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perseus_v3_02_zpsaad61f9fPerseus and Andromeda eventually went on to be the parents of the founder of Persia, and also the great grandparents of Hercules. But that’s an even longer story.

Carpe Noctem.

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