The Myth of Perseus
Perseus was the son of Zeus and Danae. His grandfather, Acrisius, locked up Danae in order to avoid fulfilling the oracle’s prophecy of which his grandson would play a part in his death, keeping her from marriage or having children. Zeus in the form of a golden shower came down to Danae and swept her off her feet. She later bore a son. Acrisius soon found out and in his rage locked the two in a chest and cast them off into the sea. Eventually they landed on the shores of Seriphus, ruled by king Polydectes.
The Mundane World
Perseus grew into a strong young man on the island of Seriphus. King Polydectes had his eye on Danae, Perseus’ mother. Perseus was the only thing in the way of asking Danae’s hand in marriage. He knew if he wanted Danae, then he would have to find a way to get Perseus out of the picture.
King Polydectes threw a fake wedding party for himself and a lady called Hippodameia. He asked all his friends, including Perseus, to bring a gift for him to win the heart of Hippodameia. When Perseus arrived without a gift, he boasted to Polydectes that he could give him anything he wants in the world. The king then told him he wanted the head of the gorgon Medusa (lady with snakes for hair, bronze hands, wings and tusks). Perseus accepts the difficult challenge.
Crossing the Threshold
After wandering for days with no idea where to start, Hermes and Athena visit him. They give him a brass shield and explain that he needs to seek out the three Graeae (hag sisters who share an eye and a tooth). These sisters could tell Perseus where he could find the equipment necessary to fight the gorgons. When Perseus reaches the cave of the Graeae he hides in a bush and watches them. Then he jumps out, stealing their beloved… eyeball and black mails them into telling him the location of the Nymphai (three nymphs that have the legendary equipment). Perseus has now officially started his journey into the world of mythological gods and creatures.
The Path of Trials
Perseus visits the Nymphai, who give him Hermes’ winged sandals, the Cap of Darkness (grants invisibility), and the kibisis (a bag that could hold the head of Medusa). He then starts off to the cave of the gorgons. Athena advises Perseus to only look at them from the reflection off the shield. When he gets inside the cave he notices the gorgons are fast asleep. He sneaks up on Medusa, still looking only at her reflection, and chops off her head. Perseus then places the head in the kibisis and runs for the mouth of the cave. The two other gorgon sisters wake up and chase him. Perseus throws on the Cap of Darkness and escapes the wrath of the gorgons. Now victorious, Perseus travels home. On his way back he runs into atlas (the Titan required to hold up the earth) and asks him for shelter. The titan refuses and as punishment Perseus turns him into stone. Before reaching Seriphus, Perseus stops again. He sees a young lady chained to a Cliffside. She is Andromeda, who Poseidon said is to be sacrificed to a sea monster because her mother bragged she was more beautiful than the Nereids (minor goddesses of the sea). Perseus’ introduction to Andromeda is cut short by the roar of the sea monster. Perseus saves the damsel in distress by turning the monster into stone with Medusa’s head. Perseus returns Andromeda to her father, King Cepheus of Ethiopia, and asks for her hand in marriage. The king accepts Perseus’ request and the happy couple finally return to Seriphus.
Master of Two Worlds
Perseus’ final encounter is with King Polydectes. His mother is found hiding in a temple in order to avoid Polydectes. Danae refused his marriage proposal which filled him with rage. With this news, an angry Perseus heads for the palace and confronts the king and his companions. Perseus told them he found his gift and showed them the head of Medusa, turning them all to stone. His mother and the island of Seriphus were now free from the tyrannical King Polydectes. His quest was now over and he returns the equipment to the Nymphai and gives the head of Medusa to Athena in thanks for her help.