samedi 6 septembre 2008

Cepheus 6

Cepheus is the name of two mythological kings. One was the son of Aleus, from Arcadia. He would become the king of Tegea (a community on the Peloponesian peninsula), would father twenty children, and would sail with Jason as an Argonaut.
The other Cepheus was the son of Belus, king of Egypt (who was himself the son of Poseidon). This Cepheus grew to become the King of Ethiopia (or Joppa). He married Cassiopeia and they had a daughter Andromeda. (Yes, the whole family eventually winds up in the heavens.)
Cassiopeia was incredibly beautiful but immensely vain. She was also proud of her daughter's beauty. In fact she continually boasted that the two of them were more beautiful than any of the fifty sea nymphs who attended Poseidon's court.
These nymphs (the Nereids) complained to Poseidon, who felt he had to defend his own reputation. So he sent a flood to devastate Cepheus' kingdom. The oracles told Cepheus that in order to save his people he must sacrifice his daughter to a great sea monster: Andromeda was tied to a rock along the coastline, dressed only in her jewellery. The monster would be along in due time to take his prize.
At that moment Perseus came flying by. He had just killed the Gorgon Medusa and was carrying the severed head back to Athene.
Medusa was one of the three Gorgon sisters; they were once very beautiful but Medusa slept one night with Poseidon, in Athene's temple. This infuriated Athene so much she turned Medusa's hair to snakes and turned her into a terrifying monster with huge teeth and claws. One look from Medusa would turn the viewer to stone.
With the assistance of Athene, Medusa's sworn enemy, Perseus tricked Medusa by looking at her reflection. He then sliced off her head (Pegasus and a warrior named Chrysaor sprang fully-formed out of Medusa's dead body).
So Perseus arrives at the scene and has a quick chat with Cepheus and Cassiopeia; it is agreed that should he rescue their daughter, he can marry her. So he skims across the water and his shadow on the waters confuses the monster, which Perseus then beheads.
Far from delighted, Cepheus and Cassiopeia balk at their daughter marrying Perseus. However Andromeda insists, so the marriage ceremony is performed on the spot.
Halfway through the ceremony Agenor, a family relative, shows up and claims Andromeda as his bride. (It's pretty certain now that Cassiopeia put him up to it.) Understandably, this angers Perseus and a great battle breaks out. However, outnumbered, Perseus has to resort to desperate measures. So he shows Medusa's head, instantly turning everyone to stone, including Andromeda's parents.
Poseidon then put Cepheus and Cassiopeia into the heavens, but with a twist: he made the vain Cassiopeia spin around on her chair, spending half the year upside down. As for Cepheus, Poseidon gave him a number of medium sized stars that go to make his square face with a pointed crown.

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