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Perseus


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A mythical hero. Acrisius, king of Argos and brother of Proetus, being warned by an oracle that his daughter Danaē's son would kill him, shut her away in a bronze chamber. Zeus visited her there in a shower of gold. Acrisius, learning that she had borne a son, whom she called Perseus, set mother and child adrift at sea in a chest. They drifted to the island of Serīphus, where a fisherman called Dictys rescued them and gave them shelter. When Perseus grew up, Polydectēs, the king of Seriphus and Dictys' brother, having fallen in love with Danae contrived to send him away to fetch the head of the Gorgon Medusa. This Perseus achieved, with the help of Athena and Hermes, through whom he acquired the necessary implements of sickle, bag, cap of invisibility, and winged sandals. While returning home he came upon Andromeda about to be devoured by a sea‐monster, fell in love with her, rescued and married her. When they returned to Seriphus, he used the Gorgon's face to turn Polydectes and his followers into stone for persecuting Danae. He now gave the head to Athena, who put the face in the centre of her aegis, and returned the bag, cap and sandals to Hermes. Leaving Dictys as king of Seriphus, he came with his wife and mother to Argos to see his grandfather. But Acrisius, learning of this and still fearing the oracle, hurried away to Pelasgiotis. Perseus followed, and, while competing in the funeral games for the late king of Larissa, he threw the discus and accidentally struck and killed Acrisius, thus fulfilling the oracle. Leaving Argos to the son of Proetus, he became king of Tiryns and founder of the Perseid dynasty. The adventures of Perseus, and esp. those relating to the beheading of Medusa, are favourite themes in art from the 7th cent.

Subjects: Religion — Classical Studies.


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