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Friday, 13 June 2014

Cetus the Sea Monster

Hi dear friends and followers, I hope you all are doing well. I wish to thank you so very much for following and supporting this blog. Todays' story is an old myth of a sea monster which was created by the Greek gods. 

I hope you enjoy this post, my only desire is to share the best of stories and myths with you as I can, and maybe discover new ideas and new worlds together. 

Cetus the Sea Monster

The Greek gods created Cetus. This ferocious water monster had canine-like front legs, a bloated torso like that of a whale and a serpentine tail that was split at the end. It was amphibious and could survive on land or water. He is often depicted with pieces of him sticking up from the water rather than his entire body be showing. In some more recent depicting of the monster, he has whale-like attributes.

Cetus only obeyed Poseidon, the Greek god of the sea and storms, known to the Romans as Neptune. As a monstrous minion of one of the most powerful Greek gods, Cetus struck a tremendous fear in the hearts of any port-dwelling Greek, and he often served as a potent punishment for a harbor or ship.

Queen Cassiopeia, wife of Cepheus, the King of Joppa (referred to in some myths as Ethiopia), boasted that she and her daughter Andromeda were the most beautiful creatures in all the world. She dared to say that her daughter's beauty surpassed even that of the Nereids.

The Nereids were sea nymphs, specifically the fifty daughters of Nerus and Doris. They often worked with Poseidon. When they heard of Cassiopeia's taunts, the Nereids became furious and went to the sea god to end the matter.

Poseidon sent Cetus to terrorize Joppa to punish the Queen for her mistake. When Cepheus approached the god to ask how amends might be made, Poseidon ordered him to chain his daughter Andromeda to a rock near the sea for Cetus to devour her. In spite of his love for his daughter, Cepheus did as ordered to save his kingdom from further torment from Cetus.

This vicious mythical creature was finally stopped in its tracks by Perseus and his steed, the winged horse Pegasus

. While returning from his victorious battle with Medusa

, he came across Andromeda chained to a rock awaiting her fate as a meal to the dreadful sea monstrosity. After falling in love with her and learning of her plight, the young hero Perseus could not allow the sea dragon to have her.

Perseus had already slain the gorgon Medusa, and, still having her head, he used it as a weapon. When the enormous serpent rose from the waters to take its sacrifice, Perseus held up his newly acquired trophy (the severed head of Medusa) straight to its eyes. Upon seeing the head of Medusa the dragon immediately turned to stone and crumbled into a million pieces back into the waters.

Excerpts from the ancient writings that reference this monster follow here.

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 2. 43 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Arriving in Aithiopia, which Kepheus ruled, Perseus came upon his daughter Andromeda laid out as a meal for a Ketos. It seems that the king's wife Kassiepeia had challenged the Nereides in beauty, boasting that she outdid them all. As a result the Nereides were in a rage, and Poseidon in sympathetic anger sent a flood-tide upon the land and a ketos as well. The oracle of Ammon prophesied an end to the trouble if Kassiopeia's daughter Andromeda were served up to the Ketos as a meal, so Kepheus, pushed to it by the Aithiopians, tied his daughter out on a rock. When Perseus saw her it was love at first sight, and he promised to kill the ketos and rescue the girl in return for her hand. Oaths were sworn, after which Perseus faced and slew the ketos, and set Andromeda free."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 4. 35. 9 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"Red water, in colour like blood, is found in the land of the Hebrews near the city of Joppa. The water is close to the sea, and the account which the natives give of the spring is that Perseus, after destroying the Ketos (Sea-Monster), to which the daughter of Kepheus was exposed, washed off the blood in the spring."

Philostratus the Elder, Imagines 1. 29 (trans. Fairbanks) (Greek rhetorician C3rd A.D.) :
"[From a description of an ancient Greek painting at Neapolis (Naples) :] No, this is not the Red Sea (thalassa Erythra) nor are these inhabitants of India, but Aithiopes (Ethiopians) and a Greek man in Aithiopia. And of the exploit which I think the man undertook voluntarily for love, my boy, you must have heard--the exploit of Perseus who, they say, slew in Aithiopia a Ketos (sea-monster) from the Atlantikos (sea of Atlas), which was making its way against herds and the people of this land. Now the painter glorifies this tale and shows his pity for Andromeda in that she was given over to the Ketos (monster). The contest is already finished and the Ketos (monster) lies stretched out on the strand, weltering in streams of blood--the reason the sea is red--while Eros (Love) frees Andromeda from her bonds. Eros is painted with wings as usual, but here, as it not usual, he is a young man, panting and still showing the effects of his toil; for before the deed Perseus put up a prayer to Eros that he should come and with him swoop down upon the creature, and Eros came, for he heard the Greek’s prayer.

The maiden is charming in that she is fair of skin though in Aithiopia . . . Her beauty is enhanced by the circumstances of the moment; for she seems to be incredulous, her joy is mingled with fear, and as she gazes at Perseus she begins to send a smile towards him." [N.B. Philostratus locates this myth on the Atlantic coast of Africa rather than the Red Sea. "Aithiopes" was a generic term meaning black African.]

Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 64 (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Cassiope claimed that her daughter Andromeda’s beauty excelled the Nereids’. Because of this, Neptunus [Poseidon] demanded that Andromeda, Cepheus’ daughter, be offered to a Cetus. When she was offered, Perseus, flying on Mercurius’ [Hermes] winged sandals, is said to have come there and freed her from danger."

I hope you all enjoyed my new post "Cetus the Sea Monster," love you all my dear friends and followers Muchas gracias, many thanks, to you, for visiting and making this blog possible.

Much love to you from The Fairy Lady

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