Perseus is the son of Danae and Zeus, and he made his name known by killing Medusa and saving his mother from King Polydectes.
Perseus was born after his grandfather, King Acrisius, locked his mother Danae in a brass tower after learning a prophecy that his grandchild would kill him. Danae was visited at night by Zeus, and she soon became pregnant. After Perseus’ birth, King Acrisius decided to test Danae to see if she was protected by the gods by setting her afloat in the ocean. If she returned safely, she was protected. Instead, she and Perseus were found by a sailor and brought to King Polydectes.
King Polydectes allowed Danae and Perseus to stay in his castle, but he was plotting to one day make Danae his wife. He schemed to get Perseus out of the way by pretending to make plans to marry someone else and demanding a gift from all of the young men of the land. Perseus did not have any money for a grand gift, but offered something even grander: to deliver the head of Medusa. Aided by winged sandals sent by Athena, a shield of polished bronze, a sickle-shaped moon sword, and the Cap of Darkness (Invisibility) provided to him by the Nymphs of the West, Perseus found the Gorgon sisters’ lair. He approached Medusa while she slept, keeping her reflection in his shield, and struck with the sword, beheading her.
On his way home, he came across a young maiden being sacrificed to a sea monster because her mother had angered the sea nymphs by insisting she and her daughter were more beautiful. Perseus killed the serpent and claimed the girl, Andromeda, as his wife. He took Medusa’s head and Andromeda back to the Polydectes and discovered that the king was forcing Danae to marry him. Furious, Perseus took Medusa’s head out of the bag and turned the king and all of the wedding guests to stone. One of the guests at the wedding was his grandfather, King Acrisius, thus satisfying the prophecy. Perseus gave Athena the bronze shield, which had the image of Medusa’s head burned into it, and threw the head into the sea where it creates coral along the sea floor.
Zeus and Danae
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