Cassiopeia was the beautiful wife of Cepheus, king of Ethiopia, and the mother of Andromeda. She is most famous in connection with the myth of her daughter, Andromeda. The queen made the mistake of bragging she was more lovely than the Nereids, or even than Juno herself. The goddesses were, needless to say, rather insulted, and went to Neptune, god of the sea, to complain. Neptune promptly sent a sea monster (possibly Cetus?) to ravage the coast. The king and queen were ordered to sacrifice their daughter to appease Neptune's wrath, and would have done so had Perseus not arrived to kill the monster in the nick of time. As a reward, the hero was wedded to the lovely Andromeda.
By most accounts, Cassiopeia was quite happy with the match. In some versions of the myth, however, the queen objects to the marriage and is turned to stone when Perseus shows her the head of the Gorgon Medusa.
Although she was placed in the heavens by Neptune, the sea-god saw fit to humiliate her one final time (and for all eternity). He placed her so that she is seated on her throne, with her head pointing towards the North Star Polaris. In this position, she spends half of every night upside-down.
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These pages are the work of Cathy Bell
cmbell (at) comfychair (dot) org
originally for the Princeton University course CLA 212.