Episode #5 of the course “Heroes of Greek Legend”
Perseus was the son of the mortal princess Danae and the king of the gods, Zeus. He was one of the most legendary heroes, and his descendants include the famous Heracles. When Danae’s father was given a prophecy that her son would kill him, he locked her in a tower. But Zeus appeared and seduced her, and Perseus was born. Danae’s father locked her and baby Perseus in a trunk and threw them into the sea. They were rescued by a fisherman, whose brother was the king of Serifos.
The king, Polydectes, wanted Danae for himself but would not marry her because of Perseus. He sent Perseus to kill Medusa, the famous Gorgon monster with snakes instead of hair and eyes that turned mortals to stone. With the help of the goddess of wisdom, Athena, and the messenger god, Hermes, Perseus was able to acquire the right tools to defeat the Gorgon. After beheading her in her sleep, he escaped from her sisters using an enchanted hood of darkness, carrying Medusa’s head with him in a protective bag. The eyes could still turn mortals to stone, even in death.
On the return journey to Polydectes, Perseus alleviated Atlas, the Titan who was condemned to bear the weight of the world on his shoulders, from this burden. He used the Gorgon’s head to turn Atlas to stone so he wouldn’t feel pain. Perseus also rescued the princess Andromeda from her death by a sea monster, using Medusa’s head to turn the monster to stone. Perseus married Andromeda, and together they returned to Serifos, where they found Polydectes holding Perseus’ mother Danae captive. Using Medusa’s head as a weapon, Perseus takes the throne and he and Andromeda rule in peace and prosperity. After death, they were immortalized to live together as stars in the sky.
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