Perseus & Andromeda

The story of Perseus and Andromeda derives from Greek mythology and contains very deep wisdom on the interactions of male and female energy. Perseus is one of the greatest heroes of Greek Mythology. He was the son of mighty Zeus and mortal Danae. He is best known as the slayer of the Gorgon Medusa, a fearsome monster, and as the rescuer of the Ethiopian princess Andromeda. Perseus is also said to be an ancestor of Hercules and the Asian race of the Persians. He was praised as a brave man, a good son and an honorable king.

Discover the myth of Perseus and Andromeda

The birth of Perseus

The story starts when the Oracle of Delphi warns Acrisius, King of Argos, that his own grandson would kill him. Fearing that this prophecy would come true, he locks his only daughter, Danae, into an underground bronze chamber, to keep her away from all men. However, Zeus the all mighty saw the girl and fell in love with her. He then took the form of a golden rain to get into the bronze chamber and seduce Danae. From this union, Danae gave birth to a son whom she named Perseus.

When king Acrisius heard the baby crying and realized he had a grandson, his first thought was to kill the unfortunate boy and his mother. But he couldn't do as he feared he would cause the anger of Zeus. So he cast his daughter and grandson into a wooden chest and set them into the wild sea to get drowned.

However, Zeus saw the desperate woman and asked Poseidon to calm the sea water. Indeed, the sea calmed down and after a few days, Danae and his new-born son landed on the island of Serifos. There Dictys, a fisherman and brother of the island's king, found them and took them to his home, where they would be safe.

Perseus grew up into a fine young man under the care of the kind fisherman Dictys. In the meanwhile, King Polydectes began to be inflamed by passion for Danae, who was still a charming lady although many years had passed since her youth. Danae, however, did not wish this marriage. Polydectes thought that the presence of Perseus was an obstacle for Danae and that is why she didn’t wish to get married. So he decided to set up a plan to get rid of this annoying youth.

He challenged Perseus to dare a difficult task, to kill the fearsome Gorgon Medusa and bring back her head. Gorgon Medousa was a terrible monster with snakes in her head and she could turn into stone everyone that looked her face. By killing Medousa, Perseus would prove his braveness, as fits to the son of Zeus. Polydectes was sure that Perseus would not survive this dangerous task.

Killing Medusa

What Polydectes had not known was that Perseus was beloved by the gods. To help him, god Hermes gave him a curved sword and a pair of winged sandals (other versions of the myth say that Hermes did not give Perseus a pair of winged sandals but a white winged horse) while Athena gave him a mirror of polished bronze and a cap from Hades that could make invisible anyone who would wear it. With these divine aids, Perseus started his long journey to the cave of Medousa, somewhere in Africa.

He indeed found lying in her deep cave. Since he was wearing the winged sandals, he could fly around her and since he was wearing the magical cap of Hades, he was invisible. In order to avoid looking Medousa directly to her face and thereby being turned into a stone, Perseus approached Medousa looking at her reflection in the mirror and cut off her head with the sword of Hermes. So easily then, the brave and intelligent Perseus managed to complete this difficult task!

Saving Andromeda

As he was flying over Africa in his return home, Perseus encountered Atlas the Titan, a mythical giant, who challenged him. In their confrontation, Perseus used Medousa's head to turn the Titan into stone. Perseus continued his journey home and, as he passed the kingdom of Ethiopia, he came upon the beautiful and helpless maiden Andromeda, chained to the rocks waiting to be devoured by a sea monster.

The beautiful Andromeda was the daughter of the Ethiopian king Cepheus and queen Cassiopeia. One day, the vain queen had bragged that her daughter Andromeda was more beautiful than the Nereids, the sea nymphs. The sea nymphs fell angry to hear that and complained to Poseidon, the god of the sea. A furious Poseidon unleashed the sea monster Cetus to frequently ravage the coast and devastate the land of Ethiopia in order to avenge the insult to his wards, the Nereids. The desperate king Cephus appealed Zeus, who suggested the sacrifice of Andromeda as the only way to appease the wrathful Poseidon.

Thus it was that our hero Perseus found himself face to face with the beautiful Andromeda chained helplessly onto the rocks, awaiting her doom. Perseus immediately fell in love with the lovely maiden and promptly killed Cetus the beast, who had been licking his lips at the prospect of having a delicious meal.

Perseus took Andromeda to her father Cepheus and asked for her hand in marriage. This infuriated Andromeda's uncle Phineus, to whom the maiden was already promised. During the ensuing quarrel, Perseus turned Phineus into a stone by showing him the head of the Gorgon Medousa.

Back to Serifos

A happily married Perseus returned to the island of Serifos with his wife, Andromeda, only to find Polydectes still pursuing his unwilling mother, Danae. Poor Polydectes soon joined the list of stone statues, thanks to the skillful use of the head of Medousa. After that, Perseus made Dictus the fisherman king of the island, to thank him for his kindness and generosity all these years. A grateful Perseus gave his flying sandal, mirror and magical cap to god Hermes. He also gave his great trophy, the head of Medousa, to goddess Athena.

In Argos again

The whole family finally decided to leave Seriphos and return to Argos, keeping it a secret from King Acrisius. There, one day, Perseus took part in a sport competition. While throwing the discus, he accidentally struck his grandfather and instantly killed him. The old prophecy had come true, no matter how Acrisius tried to avoid it.

After the death of Acrisius, the Kingdom of Argos naturally passed on to Perseus, who thought himself unworthy of it, since he had caused his grandfather's death, even by accident. So he gave away the kingdom of Argos to Megapenthes, in exchange for Megapenthes' kingdom of Tiryns.

Perseus and his wife Andromeda happily settled in Tiryns and became the parents of seven sons and one daughter. According to Mythology, the descendants of Perseus ruled Mycenae, the most powerful town of Peloponnese in the Mycenaean times. Another great Greek hero, Heracles, was also a descendant of Perseus while his son Perses is said to have traveled in far away Asia to become the ancestor of a new race, the Persians.

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