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Princess Andromeda’s Story: The Iconic Victory of Good over Evil

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For Hollywood to produce a Greek myth twice is evidence of the richness of this story and its events, the diversity and contrast of its characters, and the drama behind its details. I am referring to the story, or the myth, of Princess Andromeda in Greek mythology, which every astronomer, amateur astronomer, or sky observer recalls while looking at the Andromeda Constellation—a very clear and easily identified group of stars. The constellation also includes the nearest galaxy to us, which bears the same name: the Andromeda Galaxy.

Pardon me dear reader! I got carried away to Andromeda Stars and the Andromeda Galaxy without first revealing the title of the two movies I am talking about or the features of the story at their center. The title of both movies is Clash of the Titans; it was produced twice: the first in 1981, where the beautiful actress Judi Bowker played the role of Andromeda; while the second was in 2010, where the great actress Alexa Davalos played the role of Andromeda. I invite you, dear reader, to watch both movies; you will enjoy watching them with your family.

The heroes and main characters of the movies and the myth are: Queen Cassiopeia, the daughter Princess Andromeda, and Prince Perseus, the son of Zeus, the king of Gods, from a mortal lady called Danae. The story begins with a prophecy that Danae will give birth to a boy who will kill his mortal father, King Acrisius; as a result, the father confines his daughter in an isolated prison so that she neither sees or is seen by anyone. Nevertheless, during her long imprisonment, Zeus was able to sneak into her prison in the form of a man and marries her, after which she gave birth to the child Perseus. A few months later, the king learnt that the prophecy was fulfilled, and without any investigation into the marriage or the birth, decided to get rid of the child and his mother by putting them in a chest and throwing it into the open sea.

In the story, the waves carry the chest to a distant island ruled by a king named Polydectes, and the child grows up to be a skilled knight and warrior. On the other hand, on the same island, Queen Cassiopeia was conceited by the beauty of her gorgeous daughter Andromeda, boasting her beauty over all women on Earth and even mermaids. As a result, the daughter of the sea god, Poseidon, sought revenge from the arrogant Cassiopeia by asking for the sea monster to pursue and destroy the queen, her kingdom, and her people.

The oracles advised Cassiopeia and her husband to sacrifice their daughter Andromeda to the sea monster to save the kingdom and its people. Consequently, the King and Queen unjustly accepted to sacrifice their innocent and beautiful daughter Andromeda; they tied her to a rock and left her to be devoured by the sea monster. Prince Perseus, who hoped to marry Andromeda, learnt of the calamity that befell her; he was promised to marry her if he succeeded in saving her from this tragic fate. The events of the movie follow the hero who learnt that the only way to save Andromeda from the sea monster was to behead the Medusa, who is the only one capable of killing the sea monster.

The Medusa was a charming woman who incurred the wrath of the gods, who in order to prevent her from getting married, turned her into a monster with poisonous snakes growing from her head in place of hair; she would also petrify anyone who looked into her eyes. What punishment, Medusa! After some exciting details, Perseus arrives where Medusa was, and with the help of the gods, his resourcefulness and intelligence, in an exciting scene embodied on the cinema screen, he was able to behead of the Medusa without having eye contact with her. In a breathtaking scene, the hero confronts the sea monster and shows him the head of the Medusa; the monster is immediately turned into a stone statue that collapses before killing our innocent heroine Andromeda who would have been killed because of her mother's arrogance and selfishness.

Even though the story is simple and adventurous, you never get bored while watching it and you enjoy its details. At the end, you rejoice for the survival of Andromeda and wish you were part of Perseus's journey to obtain the head of Medusa and save his innocent beloved from injustice. You finish the story feeling happy and smiling because love and good have won over evil at the end. The Greek gods glorified the heroes of the story in the form of constellations to the North; you will find the Cassiopeia and the Perseus star groups in the North among the star groups that we, the astronomers, call "Circumpolar Stars". These stars always revolve around the polar star; we see them throughout the year as a sign of the continuous struggle between the meanings of good and evil.

One last astronomical information about these constellations: you will see the images of these stars more expressive than what was mentioned in the legend. You will find Cassiopeia in the form of a Queen on her throne; Andromeda is seen as a woman bound in chains around her hands and feet; while Perseus is holding a sword in one hand and the head of Medusa in the other.


Top image: Constellations – Andromeda by Csaba Gyulai. Credits: dribbble.com


This article was first published in print in SCIplanet, Spring 2020 issue "Dualities of Life: The Earth and The Sky".

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