The Royal Family in the Sky

They are called the Royal Family, and they revolve in the heavens around the pole — Cepheus, Cassiopeia and Andromeda. Their tale is a tragic one (naturally), but one with many lessons…

Queen Cassiopeia was the wife of King Cepheus, and together they had a daughter called Andromeda. Both mother and daughter were a beautiful pair — and Queen Cassiopeia made no bones about declaring their physical attributes.One day in a fit of vanity, she boasted that both her and Andromeda were far more lovely that the sea-nymphs, the Nereids — the 50 daughters of Nereus, the old man of the sea.

But the Nereids did not take kindly to the comparison, and complained to their protector, Poseidon, who became so enraged that he struck the waters with his giant trident flooding the lands all along the coast, and calling up from the depths of the sea, the sea-monster Cetus.

King Cepheus was at his wits’ end. Thanks to his wife’s conceited ways, his kingdom was flooded, and now a monster lurked off-shore, and so he went to consult the Oracle to see what could be done. But only more bad news met King Cepheus. He was told that, in order to save his people, he had to sacrifice his daughter Andromeda to Cetus, and succumbing to the pressure, this is exactly what Cepheus decided to do.

Poor Andromeda was chained to the rocks along the coastline to be fed to the monster…But, as luck would have it, hero Perseus happened to be passing overhead on his horse Pegasus (although some say Perseus had no horse and was flying with magic winged-sandals).

Recently back from beheading Medusa, Perseus pledged to save Andromeda in return for her hand in marriage, and King Cepheus (who it was clear would give his daughter to anyone who asked) agreed. And so Perseus went out onto the rocks to wait for the sea-monster to attack. And attack it did… But brave Perseus prevailed, stabbing Cetus finally in the heart (although some say he used Medusa’s head to turn the monster to stone), and saving princess Andromeda.

Depending on who you ask, Andromeda and Perseus had a glorious celebration of marriage, but Poseidon did not forget… As punishment for her vanity, Poseidon put Cassiopeia up into the night sky placing her in such a position that she would have to revolve around the Pole, therefore being left hanging upside down in an undignified position for much of eternity. King Cepheus is next to her, and you’ll find Andromeda, Perseus and Pegasus not too far away.