Perseus and the Legendary Rescue of Andromeda: Slaying of a Dangerous Sea Monster

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Perseus and Andromeda

Perseus and the Legendary Rescue of Andromeda: Slaying of a Dangerous Sea Monster

It is an epic tale that would stand the test of time and would later be immortalized by Hollywood. Among its mythology there is one specific episode that has stood out from the rest; that is, Perseus’ confrontation with the legendary beast threatening his future wife, Andromeda, and the kingdom of Ethiopia.

Ethiopia was ruled by king Cepheus and his wife Cassiopeia.

[Cassiopeia] vied with the Nereids in beauty and boasted to be better than them all; hence the Nereids were angry, and Poseidon, sharing their wrath, sent a flood and a monster to invade the land. But Ammon having predicted deliverance from the calamity if Cassiopeia's daughter Andromeda were exposed as a prey to the monster, Cepheus was compelled by the Ethiopians to do it, and he bound his daughter to a rock.”

– [Pseudo-] Apollodorus, The Library II.4

The Feats of Perseus

During his journey and following his slaying of the gorgon, Medusa, Perseus saw a naked Andromeda chained to a rock as an offering to this monstrous creature. He immediately fell in love with her and vowed to destroy the creature. Perseus accomplished this task and set Andromeda free, later marrying her. In one telling, Perseus drove his sword into the creature’s back while in another, he used the head of the Medusa to turn it to stone.

Perseus with the head of Medusa.

Perseus with the head of Medusa. (© Marie-Lan Nguyen / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY 2.5)

The legends surrounding Perseus are preserved in the writings of both Pausanias (ca. 110 – ca. 180 AD) and Pseudo-Apollodorus (1st or 2nd centuries AD). His story ends with his founding of Mycenae and the establishment of the Perseid Dynasty.

The very same Mycenae which would eventually be the home to the Atreid Dynasty and house the throne to the ruthless Agamemnon. For those not well versed in Greek mythology, Agamemnon was the Mycenaean Greek monarch who led a thousand ships to Troy, where the decade long Trojan War was fought in approximately 1200 BC.

Ancient City of Jaffa Plagued by Sea Monsters?

Ancient and Hellenistic tradition link Jaffa or Iopeia (modern day Tel Aviv, Israel) to the name Cassiopeia, the mother of Andromeda. Settlement in Jaffa dates as far back as the Near Eastern Bronze Age (3300 - 1200 BC) and is firmly situated along the Levantine coast. It served as a port city since antiquity, and was written about in ancient texts as early as the 15th century BC, some of which are preserved in the 14th century BC Amarna Letters (Yapu, EA 365). The city remained under Egyptian control until approximately 800 BC. Near the harbor of the city, there exists an outcrop of rocks which have been associated with the place where Andromeda was chained.

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