Perseus (Greek: Περσεύς), the legendary founder of Mycenae and of the Perseid dynasty of Danaans, was the first hero. Perseus beheaded the Gorgon Medusa and saved Andromeda from the sea monster Cetus. Perseus was the son of the mortal Danaë and the god Zeus. He was also the great grandfather of Heracles, also a son of Zeus.
Perseus was born to Zeus and Danae, the daughter of Acrisius, King of Argos. Disappointed by his lack of luck in having a son, Acrisius consulted the oracle at Delphi, who warned him that he would one day be killed by his daughter's son. In order to keep Danaë childless, Acrisius imprisoned her in a bronze chamber, open to the sky, in the courtyard of his palace. Zeus turned into a shower of gold so he could slip in her prison, and from their union was Perseus. Fearful for his future, but unwilling to provoke the wrath of the gods by killing the offspring of Zeus and his daughter, Acrisius cast the two into the sea in a wooden chest, before being picked up by Dictys, a fisherman. The brother of Dictys was Polydectes, the king of the island.
When Perseus was grown, Polydectes came to fall in love with the beautiful Danaë. Perseus believed Polydectes was less than honorable, and protected his mother from him; then Polydectes plotted to send Perseus away in disgrace. He held a large banquet where each guest was expected to bring a gift. Polydectes requested that the guests bring horses, under the pretense that he was collecting contributions for the hand of Hippodamia, "tamer of horses". Perseus had no horse to give, so he asked Polydectes to name the gift; he would not refuse it. Polydectes held Perseus to his rash promise and demanded the head of the only mortal Gorgon, Medusa, whose eyes turned people to stone. Polydectes did not know of his lineage, and assumed he would be rid of him and Perseus would be turned to stone.
On his way, Perseus encountered three gods. The first was Athena, who gave him a shield of polished bronze. The second, Hermes, who gave him winged sandals and an adamantine sword which Zeus used to chop up Kronos after the war. Hermes told him to take the eye of the Grey Sisters, so he may have two other gifts to aid him. He took the eye, and was told to meet the Nymphs in the north. He did so, and also met the third god. The third, Hades, who gave his Helm of Darkness to him. He also was given a magical wallet. Now fully equipped, Perseus went to the island where the Gorgons resided, and into the cave. He also learned this location from the Grey Sisters. He flew into the cave and turned invisible to sneak past her sisters, Euryale and Stheno, as he could not kill them because they were immortal.
He saw her from his shield, and killed her with a swift blow through the neck. He grabbed the head, and put it into the wallet. He then went back to the kingdom. While on the way, though, he found a girl name Andromeda chained to the side of the sea awaiting to be eaten by a sea serpent. He released her and killed the serpent moments later. The two later married.
Perseus returned to his homeland, and set the head of Medusa on the table which Polydectes sat. He and his guests, among them, was his grandfather. All of them had turned to stone. His mother was saved, and he lived happily. Perseus would return his sandals to Hermes, the shield to Athena, and the Helm back to Hades. Athena would also ask for Head of Medusa and Perseus gave it to her. She fastened it to her shield, and it would be known as the Aegis.
Perseus would die of old age, and lived a happy life. He would go to Elysium after death. He was one of the few demigod heroes to die peacefully.
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|Zeus's Offspring :||Aeacus • Alexander the Great • Amphion • Arcas • Britomartis • Dardanus • Epaphus • Helen • Herakles • Kastor • Lakedaemon • Minos • Perseus • Pirithous • Rhadamanthys • Sarpedon • Tityas • Zethus|
|Others :||Aeneas • Agenor • Cycnus • Hippolyta • Memnon • Orion • Orpheus • Polydorus • Pythagoras • Semele • Theseus|
|Related Articles :||Gods • Mortals|