Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A Bad Day to be a Sea Monster - Cetus

I am supposing that most of you  are unaware of Cetus -you may recognise the name, but can't think of a mythological creature related to it...

Can you see the whale shape? I can't.
Well Cetus is a massive sea monster hailing from Greek mythology, and the term cetacean (a marine mammal, whale, dolphin, porpoise etc) is derived from it.

Cetus is also a constellation, that can be seen throughout the year.

However the Cetus I'm talking about is the mythological one, not the astronomical one.

Some say Cetus is closely linked to the Leviathan (the biblical sea monster alternately described as a massive black skinned whale or dragon / serpent) - however, Cetus has been described as having the head of a dog or dragon and the bloated body of a whale/dolphin with large broad fan-like fins.

In Greek mythology Cetus has a bad day. One day Cetus was ordered by Poseidon to destroy the Phoenician kingdom ruled by Cassiopeia and her husband. He did this simply because Cassiopeia claimed she was more beautiful than the sea nymphs (Neriads). Which really seems like rather a stupid thing to do as anyone claiming to be more beautiful than a Goddess or demigod seems to meet with an unpleasant end (cough *Psyche* cough).

Anyway, as punishment for her pride and vanity, Cassiopeia has two options, let Cetus destroy her city or sacrifice her daughter Andromeda by chaining her naked to a rock and allowing her to be eaten. Naturally, Cassi chooses the latter.
So, thinking he's in for a nice juicy dinner, Cetus approaches and gets ready for his tea. Unfortunately, Perseus, who just happens to be in the area after chopping off Medusa's head, sees what's going on... He saves Andromeda, and not content with that, cuts off Cetus' head (or some say he displayed the head of  Medusa allegedly turning him to stone). Which rounded up a generally shitty day for poor old Ceets.

Perseus, went on to marry Andromeda, and fight more monsters, of course.
Charles Andre Van Loo - Perseus and Andromeda 1735-40
Leviathan (http://arelith.com/node/7422)
Enjoy your day!

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