Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Perseus

                             In Greek mythology, Perseus was described as the son of Zeus and Danae, and as the slayer of the Gorgon Medusa.  
Perseus

                                                Acrisius, king of Argos, was warned by an oracle that he would be killed by son born to his daughter, Danae. In order to keep Danae childless, Acrisius imprisoned her in a tower. Where Danae was impregnated by Zeus in the form of golden shower. When the child was born Acrisius was unwilling to believe Danae story of golden shower, he sealed up the mother and child in a wooden chest and had them throw into the sea.

Danae and Golden shower

                                            But Zeus caused the chest to land in the island of Seriphos, where Dictys, a fisherman found them. Dictys treated them well and raised Perseus as his own son.  Perseus grew up to become a strong young man The brother of Dictys was Polydectes, the king of the island of Seriphos.  Once Polydectes came to visit Dictys, saw Danae, and fell in love with her. Polydectes wanted to marry Danae, but she rejected him. Polydectes would have married Danae by force if Perseus wasn't there to protect her. 

                                 
Acrisius puts his daughter and her child (Perseus) into a chest

               So Polydectes plotted to send Perseus away. Polydectes held a large banquet where each guest was expected to bring a gift. Polydectes was requested that the guests bring horses, under the pretense that he was collecting contributions for the hand of Hippodamia. Perseus had on horse to give, so he asked Polydectes to name the gift, he would not refuse it. Polydectes demanded the head of  only mortal Gorgon Medusa, whose stare could instantly turn men to stone. According to other version, Polydectes  agree not to marry Danae, only if her son would bring the head of the Gorgon Medusa.
Perseus vowing to bring the head of Medusa back to Polydectes

                           The task seemed an impossible one, but here Perseus received guidance from gods. Hermes and Athena counselled him to seek the advice of the three old witches, Graeae, who were known to be very wise and were actually sisters of the Gorgons. The three Graeae shared one tooth and one eye between them and Perseus stole the eye, promising to return it only if the Graeae told him the whereabouts of Medusa. The Graeae wanted their eye back so Perseus got what he wanted. 

                               
Perseus with Hermes and Athena

                       According to other versions, Athena instructed Perseus to find  the Hesperides, the nymphs tending Hera's orchard, who entrusted with weapons needed to defeat the Gorgon Medusa. Following Athena's guidance Perseus sought out Graeae, sisters of Gorgons, to demand the whereabouts of   the Hesperides.   From Hesperides he received winged sandals, Hades' helmet of invisibility, and a bag to safely contain Medusa's head. Hermes gave a sickle or sword and Athena the polish shield. According to other version, Zeus gave him sword and Hades' helmet of invisibility. Hermes gave him winged sandals and Athena gave him a polished shield. 
Nymphs giving Perseus a helmet which renders him invisible, the winged sandals of Hermes, and a goatskin pouch for the head of the Medusa

                         Perseus then proceeded to Gorgons' cave. In the cave he came upon the sleeping Medusa. By viewing Medusa's reflection in his polished shield, he safely approached and cut off her head. In some versions from Medusa neck sprang Pegasus and Chrysaor the result of Poseidon and Medusa meeting. Perseus put Medusa head into the bag which he carried on his back. The other two Gorgons pursued Perseus, but wearing Hades' helmet of invisibility and he escaped.
Perseus and Medusa

                            When Perseus was on his way back to Seriphos island with Medusa's head, he saw the princess Andromeda chained to the rock as a sacrifice to a sea-monster, Cetus. Perseus slew the monster and rescued the princess, claimed her in marriage. Perseus married Andromeda in spite of Phineus, to whom she had before been promised. At wedding a quarrel took place between the rivals and Phineus was turned to stone by the sight of Medusa's head that Perseus had kept. 

Perseus rescued Andromeda

                          According to some versions, Perseus came to Atlas to ask for shelter which he refused,  Perseus by means of the head of Medusa changed him into Mt Atlas, on which heaven rested with all its stars. In one version, Perseus saw the Atlas holding up sky. Perseus was sorry for Atlas and turned him to stone by showing him the head of Medusa, so he could no longer feel the weight of his burden.    
Perseus and Atlas

     

 On returning to Seriphos island and discovering that his mother had to take refuse from the violent advances of Polydectes.  Perseus turn Polydectes and his allies to stone with Medusa's head and presented the kingdom to Dictys. 


Perseus turn Polydectes and his allies to stone with Medusa's head

                     Perseus gave the Medusa's head to Athena, who placed it on her shield and return his magical weapons needed to defeat the Gorgon Medusa.   Perseus took his mother and wife to Argos. 


Perseus presenting Medusa's head to Athena


However learning of the prophecy instead went to Larissa, where athletic games were being held. By chance Acrisius was there and Perseus accidentally stuck him on the head with his javelin or discus and kill his grandfather. 
Death of Acrisius

              Acrisius was buried outside the city of Larissa and Perseus, leave the kingdom of Argos to Megapenthes, son of Proetus (brother of Acrisius), received from him in exchange the kingdom of Tiryns.  Perseus and Andromeda had seven sons: Perses, Alcaeus, Heleus, Mestor, Sthenelus, Electroyon, and Cynurus- and two daughters: Gorgophone and Autochthe.
The constellation of Perseus

 Perseus founded the town of Midela and Mycenae. Perseus made Mycenae his kingdom capital, here, after a long and prosperous reign, Perseus died. The gods whom he had served loyally, placed him in the sky among the stars. 

                    According to one version, Proetus (brother of Acrisius) overthrown Acrisius, so Perseus kill Proetus. Megapenthes, son of Proetus killed Perseus, on account of the death of his father, but only after Perseus long and successful reign. 
Posts Related to Perseus:
 Atlas : Danae : (update soon)

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