From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Perseus is the mythological Greek warrior who slew the Gorgon Medusa by decapitating her. He married Andromeda, having rescued her from the sea monster Ceto sent by Poseidon in retribution for Queen Cassiopeia declaring herself more beautiful than the sea nymphs. He was the son of Jupiter and Danae.
Marriage to Andromeda
On the way back to Seriphos Island, Perseus stopped in the kingdom of Ethiopia. This mythical Ethiopia was ruled by King Cepheus and Queen Cassiopeia. Cassiopeia, having boasted herself equal in beauty to the Nereids, drew down the vengeance of Poseidon, who sent an inundation on the land and a sea serpent, Cetus, which destroyed man and beast. The oracle of Ammon announced that no relief would be found until the king exposed his daughter Andromeda to the monster, and so she was fastened to a rock on the shore. Perseus slew the monster and, setting her free, claimed her in marriage.
In the classical myth, he flew using the flying sandals. Renaissance Europe and modern imagery has generated the idea that Perseus flew mounted on Pegasus (though not in the great paintings by Piero di Cosimo and Titian).
Perseus married Andromeda in spite of Phineus, to whom she had before been promised. At the wedding a quarrel took place between the rivals, and Phineus was turned to stone by the sight of the Gorgon's head. Andromeda ("queen of men") followed her husband to Tiryns in Argos, and became the ancestress of the family of the Perseidae who ruled at Tiryns through her son with Perseus, Perses. After her death she was placed by Athena amongst the constellations in the northern sky, near Perseus and Cassiopeia.
Sophocles and Euripides (and in more modern times Pierre Corneille) made the episode of Perseus and Andromeda the subject of tragedies, and its incidents were represented in many ancient works of art.
As Perseus was flying in his return above the sands of Libya, according to Apollonius of Rhodes, the falling drops of Medusa's blood created a race of toxic serpents, one of whom was to kill the Argonaut Mopsus. On returning to Seriphos and discovering that his mother had to take refuge from the violent advances of Polydectes, Perseus killed him with Medusa's head, and made his brother Dictys, consort of Danaë, king.
Modern uses of the theme
In Herman Melville's Moby-Dick, the narrator asserts that Perseus was the first whaleman, when he killed Cetus to save Andromeda. Operatic treatments of the subject include Persée by Lully (1682) and Persée et Andromède by Ibert (1921).