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Andromeda: A Greek Myth of Beauty, Bravery, and Betrayal

Andromeda is the quintessential damsel in distress, a Greek princess who had the misfortune of being sacrificed to the sea monster for seemingly petty reasons. However, she’s also remembered as a beautiful queen and mother. Here’s a closer look at this mythological lady who was rescued by Perseus.

Who is Andromeda ?

Andromeda was the daughter of Queen Cassiopeia and King Cepheus of Ethiopia (In Greek mythology, “Ethiopia” was often a term used for a vaguely defined region in Africa). Her fate was sealed when her mother bragged that she had a beauty that surpassed even the Nereid (or sea nymphs), who were known for their remarkable beauty.

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Whether or not Andromeda agreed with her mother, the Nereids were angered and convinced Poseidon, god of the sea, to send a sea monster as punishment for Cassiopeia’s arrogance. Poseidon sent Cetus, a huge sea monster.

Perseus and Andromeda
Perseus freeing Andromeda after killing Cetus, public domain

King Cepheus had been told by an oracle that the only way to get rid of the sea monster was to sacrifice his virgin daughter. Cepheus made the decision to sacrifice Andromeda to the sea monster, and she was thus chained to a rock awaiting her fate.

Perseus, who was flying past on his winged sandals, noticed Andromeda, facing the dire situation of being eaten by the sea monster.

Smitten by her beauty, Persues promised to rescue her if her parents would allow him to marry her. They agreed, after which Perseus used Medusa’s head to turn the sea monster, like so many before him, to stone, releasing Andromeda from imminent death. In another versions, he slew Cetus with a sword driven into the monster’s back.

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Poseidon did not send another sea monster to devour the people, as he felt that they had learned their lesson.

The Wedding of Perseus and Andromeda

Andromeda insisted on celebrating their wedding. However, it seemed that everyone conveniently forgot that she was supposed to marry her uncle Phineus and he attempted to fight Perseus for her.

Failing to reason with him, Perseus pulled out Medusa’s head and Phineus was turned to stone too. After they got married, Perseus and Andromeda moved to Greece and she bore him seven sons and two daughters, one of which was Perses, considered the father of the Persians.

Andromeda and Perseus settled in Tiryns and founded Mycenae, ruling over it with Andromeda as his queen. Their descendants continued to rule Mycenae, the most powerful town in Peloponnese. After her death Andromeda was placed among the stars as the constellation Andromeda, where she would be joined by Cepheus, Cetus, Cassiopeia, and Perseus.

What Does Andromeda Symbolize?

Beauty: Andromeda’s beauty was the reason for her downfall and sacrifice to the monster. However, it’s also her beauty that saves her, as it attracts Perseus.

Damsel in distress: Andromeda is often described as a damsel in distress, a helpless woman waiting to be rescued from her dire situation. In modern times, we see fewer of these so-called ‘damsels in distress’ as more and more women are embracing their emerging role in society and are taking the bull by the horns, so to say.

Victim of male dominance: Andromeda’s opinions were never consulted, and she can be seen as a victim of a male dominant society. All major decisions about her life were seemingly taken without her input by the men in her life, from her father, to Perseus to her uncle.

Mother figure: However, she is also a symbol of a mother-figure, as she bore many important children, who were rulers and founders of nations. In this light, she’s can be seen as a strong consort and one who can rise to any occasion.

Andromeda in Art

Andromeda’s rescue has been a popular subject for painters for generations. Many artists often portray Perseus upon the back of his winged horse, Pegasus. However, the original stories in Ancient Greece portray Perseus flying with the help of his winged sandals given by Hermes.

august rodin andromeda

Andromeda has typically been depicted as a sensual damsel in distress, chained to a rock with full frontal nudity. However, Auguste Rodin’s depictions of Andromeda focus less on the nudity and more on her emotions, portraying her crouching in fear, with her back to the viewer. Rodin chose to depict her in marble as it’s said that when Perseus first saw her, he thought she was made of marble.

andromeda galaxy
The Galaxy Andromeda

Andromeda is also the name of our neighboring galaxy, the closest major galaxy to the Milky Way.

In Brief

Andromeda is often seen as a passive figure in her own story, but regardless, she’s an important figure with a husband who founded a nation and children who went on to do great things.

Affiliate Disclosures
Dani Rhys
Dani Rhys

Dani Rhys has worked as a writer and editor for over 15 years. She holds a Masters degree in Linguistics and Education, and has also studied Political Science, Ancient History and Literature. She has a wide range of interests ranging from ancient cultures and mythology to Harry Potter and gardening. She works as the chief editor of Symbol Sage but also takes the time to write on topics that interest her.