Looking up she saw a gray-bearded man with a crew of servants and a fishing net and spear in his hands. He calmed her and cut through her chains with his sword, telling her that now she was free and should come with him. When the king saw Perseus, he scoffed at him for making promises he could not fulfill. He would become one of the great heroes in Greek mythology because of his ability to behead the monster, Medusa. Perseus was born to the god, Zeus, and mortal woman, Danae, making him a demi-god with great strength and intelligent ingenuity. After a great deal of fighting, Acrisius and Proetus decided to split up the land and everyone hoped for peace. When Perseus threw the javelin farther than anyone else, all the spectators shouted for him to throw it even farther. Premium Membership is now 50% off! Encyclopaedia Britannica's editors oversee subject areas in which they have extensive knowledge, whether from years of experience gained by working on that content or via study for an advanced degree.... Who led the Argonauts in search of the Golden Fleece? Persephone - Orpheus - Minotaur - Midas - Medusa - Trojan Horse - Cyclops - Penelope Perseus's grandfather - Akrisios - goes to the Oracle to ask how long he has to live. Fifteen years later, Perseus was a head taller than any man on Seriphos and more skilled in sports, music, and sailing than anyone else. The nobles also laughed, but when Perseus pulled the Gorgon’s head from the goatskin, they began to grow rigid, until finally everyone at the table was solid stone. The story of how Medusa was killed by Perseus is one of the most thrilling stories in Greek mythology. The king quickly called for a large chest to be made, and as soon as Danae gave birth to a baby boy she named Perseus, Acrisius had her and the baby put in the chest. After Perseus had grown up on the island of Seriphus, where the chest had grounded, King Polydectes of Seriphus, who desired Danaë, tricked Perseus into promising to obtain the head of Medusa, the only mortal among the Gorgons. He turned the sea monster to stone by showing it Medusa’s head and afterward married Andromeda. Their lands were filled to overflowing with grazing animals, swift horses, honey bees, and fruitful vineyards. As Perseus flew home, drops of Medusa’s blood fell to the deserts below him and each one turned into a poisonous viper. With a promising plot that gets more complicated as the story progresses, this myth has a typical Hollywood-like scenario with the main character not being born yet at the moment when his destiny was determined. He found him on an island in the midst of sporting games and decided to win his grandfather’s affection by showing his agility, speed, and strength. She could not see him since the hat of darkness was still upon his head, so he drew nearer still. A further deed attributed to Perseus was his rescue of the Ethiopian princess Andromeda when he was on his way home with Medusa’s head. Greek Mythology The story of Perseus, like many Greek myths, begins with a prophecy, a prophecy that Acrisius, the king of Argos, received from the Oracle of Delphi. He told Acrisius that because he had raised his hand in anger against his brother, he would die by his own grandson’s hand one day. Perseus flew on again until he found the Gorgons’ island and hovered over them, looking at their reflections in Athena’s shield. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. Hermes returns to find Medusa about to attack Perseus. BBC Teach > School Radio > English > Ancient Greek myths, Persephone - Orpheus - Minotaur - Midas - Medusa - Trojan Horse - Cyclops - Penelope. He held a party and invited all the noblemen of the kingdom, also inviting Perseus. But the crate is rescued by a fisherman and Perseus and his mother find themselves on the Isle of Seriphos at the court of King Polydectes. The Oracle replies that he will die at the hands of his grandson - Perseus. Perseus quickly reclaimed the kingdom and went in search of Acrisius. But a pale figure on a ledge of the cliff caught his eye so he hovered nearer. Perseus and the Medusa - A Myth with a Moral Acrisius did not welcome his brother’s presence in Hellos and continued to plot against him, but one day a soothsayer came to his court. They should have been the happiest of princes but they were terribly jealous of each other. Polydectes takes a fancy to Danae and is determined to marry her. She shouted to catch his attention and the man, startled, tossed the fishing net over her and Perseus and drew the chest into shore. She told Perseus how Medusa had once been a beautiful but prideful woman who had been turned into a monster with vipers for hair, eagle’s claws for hands, and scales of brass and iron. On their return from Troy Odysseus and his crew put ashore on the island of a Cyclops. The heroic tale of Perseus includes many elements of the classic Greek epic—sibling rivalry, a prophecy, an unexpected birth, lust, revenge, a quest, and the inescapable nature of fate. Perseus marveled at the winged sandals on Hermes’ feet and at the sword fashioned from a single diamond in his hands. Perseus was sickened by the face of the pale-cheeked woman with writhing snakes for hair, leathery wings, and claws for hands, and he told Athena that he would gladly hunt and kill a monster like the Gorgon. When they arrive at their destination Hermes suddenly flies back to Olympia. It is, in its way, a morality tale, for it demonstrates how evil begets evil and the consequences of holding oneself as grander or cleverer than the gods. One of my favorites is the Medusa story, sometimes referred to as “Perseus and the Gorgon Medusa”. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. Not knowing what had happened to his mother, Perseus sailed from island to island and one day had a dream that Pallas Athena, the goddess of wisdom and war, came to him and asked him if he were brave and strong enough to fight the monster, Medusa the Gorgon. Her name was Andromeda and her mother Queen Cassiopeia had boasted one to many times of her daughter’s beauty so that the goddess of the fishes and her brother, the god of fire had laid waste to their kingdom. Perseus took the shield and the goatskin, but asked how he could journey there without a ship. From fruits to winged sandals, test your knowledge in this study of Greek and Roman mythology. Hermes then gave Perseus his winged sandals, as well as his diamond-edged sword. King Midas is granted his wish for everything he touches to be turned to gold. In Hellos, there were two princes, Acrisius and Proetus. She refused his offer of marriage and, enraged, he enslaved her in his house where she languished, weeping for Perseus’ return. Soon Danae grew so weary that she too fell asleep. Who is the Roman equivalent of the Greek god Ares? Scared of Going to Dentist But Need Treatment? Later Perseus gave the Gorgon’s head to Athena, who placed it on her shield, and gave his other accoutrements to Hermes. No one blamed Perseus as the javelin had been directed by the gods, but Perseus mourned the loss of his chance to reconcile with his grandfather. The three sisters told Perseus how to find Atlas, thus starting him off on a seven-year journey. She showed him a mirror-like shield in which Medusa was reflected.