Perseus and Andromeda – Quiz

Perseus and Andromeda – Quiz
An epic tale unfolds across the sky. Woven together are strands of seduction, hubris and divine punishment, deities and monsters, and a dashing hero to rescue a damsel in distress. Nearly thirty percent of the northern sky is dedicated to the story of Perseus and Andromeda.

In ancient Aethiopia the king had a beautiful – but vain – wife whose claims of superior beauty angered the sea nymphs. One of them was the wife of the sea god Poseidon. To punish the queen, he sent a sea monster to ravage the kingdom. An oracle told the king and queen that the land could be saved only if they sacrificed their daughter to the monster.

Elsewhere a heroic young man had been sent to bring home the head of Medusa whose look turned men to stone. He'd fulfilled his mission and was on his way back when he encountered the princess chained to a rock. He slew the sea monster, and married the girl.

The names of all of the characters in this story are in the sky. The constellations are old, but there are also some more modern tributes. How many of them can you name? You can check your answers, and also find out a bit more.

Quiz: Perseus and Andromeda
  1. King of ancient Aethiopia who nearly lost his daughter to a sea monster (constellation): (A) Cepheus; (B) Ixion; (C) Acrisius

  2. Queen whose claim to a beauty greater than that of the sea nymphs nearly caused the destruction of the kingdom (constellation): (A) Leda; (B) Eurydice; (C) Cassiopeia

  3. Moon named for the Greek sea nymphs: (A) Naiad; (B) Nereus; (C) Nereid

  4. Wife of the Greek sea god (asteroid): (A) Hera; (B) Amphitrite; (C) Aphrodite

  5. The Roman equivalent of Poseidon (planet): (A) Neptune; (B) Saturn; (C) Uranus

  6. Sea monster sent by Poseidon (constellation): (A) Hydra; (B) Cetus; (C) Draco

  7. Princess almost eaten alive by the sea monster (constellation): (A) Ariadne; (B) Andromeda; (C) Danaë

  8. Hero who killed Medusa, then saved a princess (constellation): (A) Perseus; (B) Hercules; (C) Theseus

  9. Star in the hero's constellation representing the head of Medusa: (A) Aldebaran; (B) Algol; (C) Altair

  10. Winged creature who was the offspring of Medusa and Poseidon, sometimes mistakenly associated with the hero of question 7 (constellation): (A) Phoenix; (B) Apus; (C) Pegasus
Answers and notes

1. King of ancient Aethiopia who nearly lost his daughter to a sea monster (constellation): (A) Cepheus
As a guest of Zeus in Olympus, Ixion, king of the Lapiths, was smitten with Zeus's wife Hera. He failed a test of honor that Zeus set him, and the god tied Ixion to a fiery spinning wheel. It's represented by the constellation Corona Australis. A prophecy said that Acrisius, the king of Argos, would be killed by his daughter's son. He isolated his daughter Danaë in a tower, but that didn't stop Zeus. He seduced Danaë, and the offspring of the union was Perseus.

2. Queen whose claim to a beauty greater than that of the sea nymphs nearly caused the destruction of the kingdom (constellation): (C) Cassiopeia
Cassiopeia was the wife of Cepheus. Leda's husband was the king of Argos. Zeus's seduction of Leda is represented in the constellation Cygnus. In modern times a moon of Jupiter (Roman Zeus) was named Leda. Eurydice was the wife of Acrisius.

3. Moon named for the Greek sea nymphs: (C) Nereid
The sea nymphs were Nereids, named for their mother Nereus. 4660 Nereus is a small asteroid that regularly passes near Earth. Both Nereid and Naiad (a freshwater nymph) are Neptunian moons.

4. Wife of the Greek sea god (asteroid): (B) Amphitrite
29 Amphitrite was named for the Nereid who was Poseidon's wife. Main-belt asteroid 103 Hera was named for Zeus's wife. The goddess Aphrodite is the Greek equivalent of Venus.

5. The Roman equivalent of Poseidon (planet): (A) Neptune
The Greek sky god Ouranos (Uranus) was the father of Cronos (Saturn).

6. Sea monster sent by Poseidon (constellation): (B) Cetus
Cetus is now often shown merely as a whale. Hercules, hero and demi-god, has his own constellation and his own story. Two constellations representing creatures he slew are Hydra, a poisonous 9-headed snakelike monster, and Draco the dragon.

7. Princess almost eaten alive by the sea monster (constellation): (B) Andromeda
Ariadne, daughter of the king of Crete, fell in love with Theseus. She helped him escape after killing the Minotaur. They ran off together, but he abandoned her. However the god Dionysos found her and married her. He threw the marriage crown into the sky and the constellation Corona Borealis resulted. Danaë was the mother of Perseus.

8. Hero who killed Medusa, then saved a princess (constellation): (A) Perseus

9. Star in the hero's constellation representing the head of Medusa: (B) Algol
Algol (from Arabic meaning “the ghoul”) is a variable star. Aldebaran is an orange giant that forms the eye of Taurus (the Bull). Altair (“flying bird”) is in the constellation Aquila (the Eagle).

10. Winged creature who was the offspring of Medusa and Poseidon, sometimes mistakenly associated with the hero of question 7 (constellation): (C) Pegasus
All three choices are constellations. Pegasus was the winged horse ridden by the hero Bellerophon. The other two are southern constellations invented at the end of the 16th century. The phoenix lived for centuries before being consumed by fire. Then it was resurrected from the ashes as a young bird. Although early European explorers found Apus mysterious, it's the colorful bird of paradise.

How did you do?
Did you get most of the answers right? If not, would you do better next time from what you've learned?

Piero di Cosimo, "Perseus Rescuing Andromeda"/ Biblioklept



You Should Also Read:
Perseus the Hero
Neptune's Little Moons
The Starry Crowns - Corona Australis

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