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Mr. Reynolds' English Classes

Southgate Anderson High School

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Perseus Notes

"The Bibliotheca"

Acrisius, king of Argos, received a prophesy that a son of Danae (his daughter) would overthrow him.  To avoid this prophecy, he locked Danae in a tower with no door and only one window.

One day, Zeus noticed Danae. He transformed himself into a shower of golden sparkles and entered through the barred window. Once in, he transformed into a handsome man holding a lightning bolt.  To win the heart of the princess, Zeus then changed her prison into the Elysian Fields (heaven).  Zeus visited her regularly, and eventually, Danae became pregnant.

After some time, King Acrisius noticed the golden sparkles and decided to investigate. His guards broke down the sealed door, and Acrisius rushed to Danae's chamber. Once inside, Acrisius saw that Danae had given birth to a son, Perseus.

Wanting to get rid of them both, but afraid to anger Zeus by killing them, Acrisius locked them in a box, which he threw in the sea.

The box was found by a fisherman, Dictys, who brought the castaways to his brother, King Polydectes.  The king allowed Danae and her son to live on his island, where he grew up.

Years passed, and eventually Polydectes decided to marry Danae. Teenage Perseus objected to this, so the king needed to get rid of him.  Polydectes came up with a plan.  He threw a banquet, and required that each guest bring him a horse as a gift.  Perseus had no horse, but told the king that he would gladly bring him anything else he wanted.

Polydectes took advantage of this rash promise, and ordered Perseus to bring him the head of Medusa the gorgon.

Medusa was a terrifying monster with snakes for hair and a gaze that could turn any living thing to stone, but she had not always been this way.  Medusa had once been a beautiful young woman, employed as a priestess at Athena's temple.  Poseidon was attracted to her, and one day he ravaged her on the temple altar.

Angered that her temple had been defiled, but unable to punish the more powerful Poseidon, Athena turned Medusa into a gorgon and banished her to an isolated northern island.

Perseus needed to find this island, but did not know how. Athena and Hermes arrived to help him.  Athena gave Perseus the Aegeus, a powerful, shining shield. Hermes allowed Perseus to borrow his winged sandals. Perseus was also given the sharp sickle of Cronos.

Athena then told Perseus to locate the Nymphs of the North, who would give him Hades' cap of invisibility, as well as a magic bag that would allow him to carry Medusa's head without being harmed.

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