Study Guide: Perseus
King Acrisius of
Danae: daughter of Acrisius, beautiful; Oracle at
Perseus: shut in great chest and placed out to sea with mother.
Dictys: fisherman who finds chest; takes in Danae and Perseus to raise with his kind wife.
Polydectes: ruler of little island where Danae and Perseus land; cruel and ruthless man who becomes attracted to Danae but wants to get rid of Perseus. He asks proud Perseus for Medusaís head as a wedding gift.
Medusa: one of the Gorgons with snake hair, wings, turns men to stone. The other two Gorgons are immortal and cannot be killed. Athena gives Perseus this information. At the end, her head is given to Athena, who puts it on Zeusí shield, his aegis, which she carries for him.
Gray Women: strange, old creatures who live in dim land. They share one eye for all three and take turns removing it from one forehead and handing it to the next.
The Quest for Gorgons
Perseus goes to
Hermes appears to tell him he must be properly equipped before attacking Medusa. He must go to the Gray Women. Perseus stays hidden and rushes forward to snatch their one eye and withholds it until they tell him how to reach the nymphs of the North.
GIFTS: Hermes gives Perseus and unbreakable sword. Athena gives him a polished shield to use as a mirror as to not stare directly into the Medusaís face. The nymphs give him winged sandals, a magic wallet which would always become the right size for whatever was to be carried in it, and most important, a cap which made the wearer invisible. He uses all these to find, hide, and cut off Medusaís head and carry it in the wallet.
RETURN: On his way home, Perseus finds Andromeda left to be devoured by a sea serpent, being punished for her motherís vanity/hubris. Her father is forced to sacrifice her to end the terrorism of the serpent, but when Perseus sees her, he cuts off the serpentís head. He marries her.
He discovers that Dictys and Dane have fled because
Polydectes was furious by her refusal to marry him. He goes to the castle and during a banquet,
holds up Medusaís head and turns the cruel king into stone. He makes Dictys the King of the
He returns to Greence with Danae and Andromeda to reconcile with Acrisius. There, Perseus joins a discus throwing competition and accidentally heaves it into the spectators, killing Acrisius.