Perseus Myth


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Perseus Myth Journal for Latin 2 1/11/2006

What I Learned

Perseus was the child of Danaë and Zeus. Danaë was locked up in an underground house when Zeus came to visit her. She was locked up there because her father, Acrisius, knew from a prophet that Danaë’s son would kill him.

When he found out that Danaë had a son, he sent them both afloat in a small chest. They sailed to an island where Dictys, an old man took care of both of them for many years.

Then Polydectes fell in love with Danaë, but didn’t want her son, Perseus. So he set up a weeding celebration and arranged it so that Persus would announce that he would bring the best gift of all, the head of Medusa. Polydectes knew that it was impossible to kill Medusa because anyone who looked at her were turn to stone.

Hermes and Athena liked what Perseus was doing and Hermes came down from the heavens to help Perseus. He gave him a super-strong sword and told him who to ask to find Medusa. Athena gave him a shield which was shiny, so it would function as a mirror. As they were journeying, Perseus received winged sandals, a magic bag that could hold anything of any size, and a hat that would make the wearer invisible.

So Perseus went and killed Medusa, never looking at her. He then dropped her head into his magic bag and used his whined sandals and invisible hat to escaped from the other monsters with Medusa.

When he returned, the evil king Polydectes was holding a banquet with all of his followers. Perseus held up Medusa’s head and they all turned to stone. Then Perseus returned to try and find his grandfather. He found him at a disc-throwing contest, where he hit and killed him accidentally.

Personal Response

I actually did not realize what this myth was about until I read most of it. Ah yes, the Medusa myth! I didn’t know that I knew the myth already until I read that part. I did not even notice her picture on the first page of the packet. However, I do not remember the myth being that long. It goes on and on with many different parts until it gets to Medusa.

How did Polydectes know that Perseus would not bring a normal gift to his weeding celebration? That would have totally ruined his plan. I guess he thought that Perseus was too poor to bring anything. Sill that was too big of an assumption to make. He should have had a backup plan, just in case. This story uses magic artifacts to help with the telling of the story. As the forward says, this is very rare. Most myths have only the gods have special or magic power. A mortal does not have the help of special artifacts.

How was Perseus able to kill Medusa without looking at her? Wouldn’t he have to look up to orient himself or become adjusted to the reverse image in the mirror? Also would look at Medusa’s reflection be the same as actually looking at her? What is the difference? On that note, how does looking at someone turn you into stone?