Podcaster: Richard Drumm
Title: Andromeda: The Chained Princess
Description: Today we bring you a reading adapted from: Star Lore of All Ages By William Tyler Olcott; G.P. Putnam’s Sons ; 1911
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This is 365 Days of Astronomy. Today we bring you an new episode in our Astro Folklore series. We’re always on the lookout for Creative Commons licensed and copyright-free stories that we can share and that we hope will get people thinking!
Today we bring you a reading adapted from: Star Lore of All Ages By William Tyler Olcott; G.P. Putnam’s Sons ; 1911
THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY
ANDROMEDA : THE CHAINED Princess
And there revolves herself, image of woe,
Andromeda, beneath her mother shining.
The origin of the constellation known to us as Andromeda is lost in remote antiquity, but the myth that relates to Andromeda, the daughter of King Cepheus and Queen Cassiopeia, is associated with the constellation, and is probably as well known today as any that has come down to us. According to this myth, Cassiopeia boasted that she was fairer than the sea nymphs.
This attitude was offensive to Neptune, who dispatched a monster of the deep to ravage the seacoast. Queen Cassiopeia, terrified at the prospect, sought the aid of the all-powerful Zeus, king of the gods, who ruled that her daughter Andromeda must be sacrificed to appease the wrath of the sea god. Consequently Andromeda, amid great lamentation, was chained to a rock, there to await the coming of the sea monster.
In accordance with this legend, we find the constellation Andromeda depicted in the old star atlases as a beautiful maiden chained to a rock, with Cetus the Whale or the sea monster represented near at hand about to devour her.
In Burritt’s atlas (Geography of the Heavens, by Elijah H. Burritt), Andromeda is represented with chains attached to her wrists and ankles. The rock to which she was said to have been bound does not appear in the picture. Artistic license, I suppose.
In the Spanish edition of the Alphonsine tables, Allen (Star Names and Their Meanings, Richard Hinckley Allen, 1899) tells us Andromeda is pictured with an unfastened chain around her body, and two fishes, one on her bosom and the other at her feet, showing an early connection with the neighboring constellation Pisces.
In the Leyden Manuscript, Andromeda is represented as lying partly clothed on the beach, chained to rocks on either side, and on the “Hyginus”, a map printed in Venice in 1488 she is pictured as bound by the wrists between two trees.
The legend further states that Perseus, flying through the air on his winged horse Pegasus, fresh from his triumph over the Medusa, spied the maiden in distress, and like a true champion flew to her aid.
Holding the Medusa’s head before him, he confronted the sea monster that threatened Andromeda, and immediately the creature was turned to stone, and the hero had the pleasure of releasing the Princess.
The constellation Andromeda is bounded on the west by Pegasus, and on the east by Perseus, and thus links the two constellations together. This doubtless accounts for the presence of Pegasus in the myth. It’s probably not the first time a girl came between a man and his horse…
Brown (in Stellar Mythology, by Robert Brown, Jr.) thinks that in this legend of Andromeda and Perseus we have but another version of the all-pervasive solar myth, Perseus may be Bar-Sav, the solar Herakles, and Andromeda his bride Schachar (the morning red).
The Hindus in India have almost the same story in their astronomical mythology, and almost the same names that have come down to us. They call the constellation “Antarmada.” In an ancient Sanscrit work are found drawings of Antarmada chained to a rock with a fish beside her.
Hmmm. Sounds rather familiar!
Sappho, the Greek poetess of the 7th century BCE, refers to Andromeda, and Euripides and Sophocles both wrote dramas about her, — but there is little doubt, as Richard H. Allen states, that the constellation originated far back of classical times in the Euphrates valley.
Plunket (Ancient Calendars and Constellations, by E. M. Plunket) is of the opinion that the constellation of Andromeda dates from 3,500 B.C. in accordance with the other constellations around it, and there is some grounds for believing that its date goes back to 6,000 B.C.
Archibald H. Sayce claims that Andromeda appeared in the great Babylonian Epic of Creation (the Enûma Eliš, meaning “when on high”) dating from at least the 7th century BCE to perhaps as far back as the Bronze Age, 16-18 centuries BCE, in connection with the story of Bel Marduk and the oceanic dragon Tiamat, which doubtless is the source of the story of Perseus and Andromeda.
The constellation Andromeda has borne the following names :
– Mulier Catenata, the woman chained.
– Persea, as the bride of Perseus.
– Cepheis, from her father, King Cepheus.
– Almach, from the traditional name of the star Gamma Andromedae.
Now some authorities claim that Andromeda was a native of Ethiopia and regarded her as black. The Arabian astronomers knew these stars as “Al mar’ah al musalsalah,” and to them they represented a sea calf or seal with a chain around its neck that tethered it to one of the two fishes.
R.H. Allen also states that according to Caesius, Andromeda represented the biblical Abigail of the Books of Samuel, and Julius Schiller in 1627 in his “Coelum Stellatum Christianum” christianized star atlas made of these stars the Sepulchrum Christi, the new Holy Sepulchre. His star atlas is considered a curiosity and unlike Johann Bayer’s Uranometria it never took off.
Milton in his Paradise Lost thus refers to Andromeda:
the fleecy star that bears
Andromeda far off Atlantic seas
Beyond the horizon.
Noël-Antoine Pluche (History of the Heavens, by Abbé Pluche) accounts for the names of the constellations Perseus, Andromeda, and Cepheus in the following ingenious way:
It was an ordinary turn of the Hebrew and Phoenician languages to say that a city or country was the daughter of the rocks, deserts, rivers, or mountains that surrounded her or that were enclosed within her walls. Thus Jerusalem is often called “the daughter of Zion,” that is, the daughter of drought or daughter of the barren hills contained within it. Palestine originally was nothing more than a long maritime coast consisting of rocks
and a sandy flat shore. It was proper to speak of this long coast as the daughter of Cepheus and Cassiope, Cepha signifying a stone. If you would say in Phoenician, a long coast or a long chain or ridge, you would call it Andromeda. Palestine would have been destroyed had it not been for the assistance of the barks and pilots that voyaged to Pharos at Alexandria and Sais in Egypt’s Nile delta to bring provisions. The Greek historian Strabo informs us that the Phoenicians were accustomed to painting the figure of a horse upon the stern of their barks, but there was beside the winged horse (the emblem of navigation) a horseman bearing a peculiar symbol, which was, as it happens, the arms of the city of Sais.
This was the Medusa’s head.
Furthermore, a bark in the vulgar tongue was called Perseus, which means a runner or horseman. This then according to Pluche was the meaning of the fabled sacrifice of Andromeda: — Exposed to a cruel monster on the rocks of Joppa, in Syria, Andromeda (or the coast towns of Palestine), owed her deliverance to a flying rider, Perseus (the Phoenician barks), to whom the goddess of Sais had lent the frightful head of Medusa to turn all her enemies into stone or petrify with terror. Josephus wrote that in his day the inhabitants of Joppa showed the links & remains of the chain that ostensibly bound Andromeda to the rock, and the bones of the sea monster.
Burritt (Geography of the Heavens, Elijah H. Burritt) suggests that the fable of Andromeda might mean that the maiden was courted by some monster of a sea captain who attempted to carry her away, but was prevented by another more gallant and successful rival.
Maunder (in The Astronomy of the Bible, by E. W. Maunder) claims that in the 12th chapter of the Apocalypse there is an allusion to what cannot be doubted are the constellations Andromeda, Cetus, and Eridanus.
Here are his words:
“And the serpent cast out of his mouth after the woman, water as a river, that he might cause her to be carried away by the stream.”
Andromeda is always represented as a woman in distress, and the sea monster has always been understood to be her persecutor, and from his mouth pours forth the stream Eridanus.
But that’s a different constellation. For another time…
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