Perseus did more than slay Medusa


We know the characters, but what’s the story?

LunaBella Peralta, Events editor

Many who are familiar with Greek mythology know of Medusa, the snake wielding Gorgon monster whose deadly stare can turn victims to stone. However, while Medusa remains iconic, the complete story of her death, and the brave hero who completes the task, is less known.

According to Edith Hamilton’s Mythology, the myth of Perseus was one of much popularity in Greece and the topic of many poems. Several variations have been told including by ancient writers Ovid and Apollodorus.

The myth begins with King Acrisius of Argos and a visit to the Delphi Oracle. The oracle recited its prophecy stating the king’s future grandson would kill him. Upon returning home King Acrisius trapped his only child, Danaë, in an underground bronze house with one opening in the roof to prove light. However, it was through his opening that Zeus would appear to Danaë as a shower of gold filling the chamber and impregnating Danaë with Perseus.

This instantly troubled King Acrisius as he thought of the prophecy he was given years earlier. The King’s solution was to cast the two to sea in a chest. However, the two were discovered by a fishman, Dictys, on an island.

As they lived in peace the ruler of the island, Polydectes, fell in love with Danaë. Despite his love for her he did not want Perseus so he attempted to get rid of him by sending him on a mission to kill and bring back the head of Medusa.

Luckily, Perseus was aided by gods Hermes and Athena and was gifted winged sandals, a bronze shield, a bag, and a cap of invisibility for his battle against Medusa (Perseus: The slayer of Medusa). With all his possessions he made his way to her and using the reflection of his shield located her and struck her neck. He succeeded and rapidly placed her head in his bag and flew away with the help of his sandals. .

As Perseus returned home he grew angry of Polydectes constant attempts to marry his mother and presented the head of Medusa to him, instantly turning him into stone. With his death Dictys was made ruler of the island and Percuses and his mother left to seek reconciliation from King Acrisius after many years of their exile.

Along their way they stopped by an athletic tournament hosted by King Larissa and joined in. Percuses participated in discus throwing and as his swerve and returned back it ended up hitting a spectator who just happened to be his grandfather, King Acrisius. This marked the fulfillment of the prophecy and the ending the King had feared for.