The Hero Perseus



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The Hero Perseus

According to the myth, there once was a king named Acrisius, who had a beautiful daughter named Danae. The Oracle of Apollo told Acrisius that there would come a day when Danae's son would kill him; so he locked Danae in a bronze tower so that she would never marry or have children.

The tower had no doors, except for one very small window. Danae was very sad, until one day, a bright golden light came through the small window; a man appeared holding a thunderbolt in his hand and although Danae knew he was a god, she didn't know which one. The man said, "Yes, I am a god and I wish to make you my wife. I can turn this dark prison into a wonderful, sunny and blooming land."

Indeed, the horrible prison turned into fields as beautiful as the Elysian Fields themselves, but one day Acrisius saw light coming out of the small window. He told his men to tear down one of the walls. When he entered, he saw Danae smiling and holding a baby on her lap. This was Perseus. Acrisius was furious, so he locked Danae and baby Perseus in a large chest and cast them out to sea.

Somehow, they managed to arrive safely to the island of Seriphos, where Polydectes ruled. The king's brother, Dictys, who was a fisherman, caught the chest in his net and pulled it to shore, freeing Danae and her son. Perseus grew up to become a strong young man. Polydectes heard about Danae and asked her in marriage, but she rejected him. If it wasn't for Perseus, Polydectes would have married Danae by force; so the king decided to create a plan to get rid of the young man.

Polydectes pretended to marry the daughter of his friend. Everybody had to bring a wedding present, including Perseus. However, Perseus, being poor, had not brought anything, and Polydectes pretended to be furious. After a heated discussion, Perseus said he would bring him anything the king would ask; so Polydectes asked for the head of the Gorgon Medusa.

Perseus set forth on his adventure; he wandered for days, searching for the Gorgons lair. One night, in an unknown country he realized how hopeless things were. Medusa was a horrible creature, who had snakes growing out of her head instead of hair, and a terrifying gaze that literary petrified anyone who would look into her eyes. In his despair, a tall woman and a young man with winged sandals appeared and introduced themselves as goddess Athena and god Hermes. Hermes said that they were all siblings as Perseus was in fact the son of Zeus, so they would help him in his quest; so Hermes offered him his winged sandals and the sickle that was used by Cronus to castrate Uranus; while Athena gave him her shield, so that Perseus would not have to look straight into Medusa's eyes. They also gave him further information on how to find the lair of Medusa.

So Perseus went to the cave of the Graeae, who would lead him further in his adventure. The Graeae were three women who shared a single eye among them. So, when one of them was about to give the eye to one of the others, Perseus grabbed it and blackmailed them to aid him. So, the Graeae informed him that he should find the Nymphs of the North to get the Cap of Darkness which would make him invisible, as well as a magic bag.

After getting these two items, Perseus eventually went to the lair of Medusa and her sisters, whom he found sleeping. He wore the Cap of Darkness, and unseen managed to kill Medusa using the sickle; he then used the shield to carry the head and place it into the magic bag, for even though it was dead, the head still have the potential to turn someone into stone. Medusa's sisters woke up and attacked Perseus, but he flew away using his winged sandals.

On his way back to Seriphus, he had many adventures; in one of them, he came across the Titan Atlas, who was condemned to carry the heavens on his shoulders. To release him of his pain, Perseus turned him into stone using Medusa's head, so that he would no longer feel the weight of his burden.

Later on, he saw what looked like a statue chained to a rock, so he went to investigate. He saw that it was not a statue, but a woman, and asked her why she was chained to the rock. "My name is Andromeda", she replied, "and I have been punished because of my vain mother. She boasted that I was more beautiful than the Nereids. Poseidon was angered and said that I must be sacrificed to a sea monster," she said. Even as she spoke a monster rose from the sea. Perseus pulled Medusa's head out of the bag; the sea monster turned to stone and crumbled to pieces. Perseus cut Andromeda's chains and took her to her father, King Cepheus of Phoenicia. When Perseus asked Andromeda's hand in marriage, Cepheus gladly agreed. So, Perseus and Andromeda set off for Seriphus.

On the way they stopped at Larisa, so Perseus could compete in some games that were held at that time; however, when he threw a discus, it hit an old man who instantly died. The man was Acrisius and therefore, the prophecy became true; after mourning, Perseus and Andromeda set off again.

When they arrived at Seriphus, the first person they met was Dictys, the fisherman who had brought Danae and Perseus ashore many years ago. Dictys told them how Polydectes had never really married, but since Danae wouldn't marry Polydectes, he forced her to be his handmaiden. Perseus was furious, so he asked Dictys to take care of Andromeda, in order to avenge for his mother's mistreatment.

Perseus stormed to the palace, walked in and said, "Let all who are my friends shield their eyes!" So saying he raised Medusa's head and Polydectes and his courtiers were immediately turned to stone. Perseus and Andromeda lived happily for many years and their descendants became great kings, the greatest of them all being Heracles, the strongest man in the world.

Eventually, Perseus was killed by Dionysus. To be immortalized, Perseus and Andromeda were turned into stars and would live together in the sky.

The hero Theseus

Once, there was a young boy named Theseus. Nobody knew who his father was, for both King Aegeus of Athens and Poseidon had been fond of his mother Aethra. Right before Theseus was born, Aegeus said to Aethra, "If we shall have a son, then when he becomes of age, tell him to lift this rock and take my sword and sandals." Aegeus then hid both his sword and his sandals under a large boulder and set sail for Athens.

This happened in a small town called Troezen, where Theseus grew into a strong, young man. When Aethra thought it was time, she took Theseus to the large boulder and told him to lift it. Theseus wrapped his mighty arms around the boulder and lifted it with no difficulty at all. Then, he threw the boulder into a nearby forest. Aethra then told him to take the sword and sandals and go to Athens.

Theseus Journeys to Athens

Aethra and her father begged Theseus to go to Athens by sea, for horrible robbers and bandits inhabited the road, but Theseus was bold and went overland. After a few miles, he met a large man with a shiny club. "I am Periphetes, the cudgel man, and I'm going to bash your head with this club," he said. "That's a mighty fine club you have there," replied Theseus.

"Pure brass."

"I bet it isn't."

"Yes it is."

"It's just wood wrapped in brass."

"Here, look at it to make sure."

Periphetes handed the club to Theseus. Theseus hit Periphetes on the side of the head with it. "Not bad," thought Theseus, "not bad at all. I think I'll keep this."

Theseus continued on his journey. Not much further, he saw a giant man with a battle axe, standing on the side of the road. "I am Sciron and these are my cliffs. To pass you must wash my feet as a toll!" the man said. "What would happen if I didn't?" replied Theseus. "I will chop off your head with this axe, and don't think that puny little twig you're carrying will save you, you're absolutely...WRONG!!!!" Sciron yelled. So, Theseus sat down and started to wash Sciron's feet. Theseus looked over the side of the cliff, and saw a monstrous turtle at the bottom. That's when she realized that Sciron was the infamous giant that threw people off the cliff for his man-eating turtle. When he took a grasp of Sciron's foot, Theseus jerked aside and hurled Sciron off the cliff.

Theseus walked further ahead when he saw a man that looked remarkably like Sciron. The man said, "Could you do me a favor young man? Hold this pine tree down for me." The man's name was Sinis, the pine-bender. Sinis bent a pine tree down and waited for Theseus to hold the tree down with him. Then, Sinis let go, expecting Theseus to be catapulted in the air; however, Theseus held it down. Sinis stooped down to get a better look at the tree, thinking that it had been broken, when Theseus let go of the tree, hitting Sinis in the chin and knocking him unconscious. Theseus then tied Sinis' legs to one bent pine tree, his arms to another. Then, Theseus let go, the trees ripping Sinis in half; vultures screamed with delight.

Theseus went on his way again. After a few miles, it got dark. Theseus saw a large house up ahead of him. He decided to ask the owner for a bed for the night, so he walked up to the door and knocked. A man came to the door and said, "Welcome young man. Come in, you look tired. My name is Procrustes. I have a magic bed for you to stay the night on. It is exactly six feet long, but can fit anyone, be they short or tall." Theseus had been warned about a man named Procrustes. His so called "magic" bed did fit anyone, but in an unpleasant way. If a person was too short, Procrustes would chain their arms and legs and stretch them. If they were too tall, he would chop off their legs until they were just right. Procrustes led Theseus into the room where the bed was. Theseus pushed Procrustes onto the bed and chopped off his legs; and just so Procrustes wouldn't feel any pain, he sliced his head off too.

Theseus Recognized

The next morning Theseus reached Athens. It was the largest city he had ever seen. He went to the palace where Aegeus lived. Aegeus had married Medea, who (being a sorceress) had him under her power. With her powers, Medea recognized Theseus and knew that he would try to get rid of her. So she told Aegeus that Theseus had come to kill him and that she would give Theseus poisoned wine. Aegeus, unaware that Theseus was his son, agreed. He invited Theseus to a banquet; however, when Theseus was just about to drink his wine, Aegeus recognized the sword and threw the wine cup to the floor. Theseus and Aegeus were filled with happiness. Medea left in a chariot drawn by dragons.



Theseus Journeys to Minos

Theseus and Aegeus were happy for a long time, but when the time of the spring equinox came, all Athenians were in desperation, as a ship with black sail approached Athens. Theseus begged his father to tell him why the Athenians were sad, but Aegeus said nothing.

Theseus went down to the harbor and asked the captain of the black-sailed ship what was happening. The captain told him about how Androgeus, the eldest son of King Minos of Crete, had accidentally been killed in Athens. Minos was very angry. He attacked Athens and demanded that the Athenians pay a yearly tribute of seven young man and seven young women to be fed to the Minotaur. The Minotaur was a monster, half man and half bull, residing in the Labyrinth, a large maze under King Minos' palace.

Theseus went back to Aegeus and said, "I will go to Crete as one of the victims and I will slay the Minotaur!" "No, my son," said Aegeus, "you mustn't go. You are my only son. The only heir to the throne." "I must go, father. I must prove that I am a hero." said Theseus. In the end, Aegeus let Theseus go, but made him promise that if he returned back to Athens alive, he should change the black sails to white ones. So, Theseus volunteered to go as one of the fourteen tributes.

When Theseus and his companions landed at Crete, Minos was there to welcome them. He asked each of them who they were. When he asked Theseus, he said, "I am Theseus, prince of Athens, son of Poseidon!" "If you were the prince of Athens," Minos said, "wouldn't old Aegeus be your father? To prove you are the son of Poseidon, fetch my ring," he said, throwing it into the sea. Praying to Poseidon, Theseus dived into the water. He saw the nymph Thetis, who gave him the ring and an old crown. Theseus went back to shore holding the ring and the crown; Minos laughed.

That night Theseus was visited by Minos' daughter Ariadne. She said to him, "Theseus, I want to help you kill the Minotaur, but promise me to take me with you to Athens afterwards, and make me your queen." Theseus agreed and Ariadne gave Theseus a ball of silk thread, telling him to tie it to the entrance of the Labyrinth, unrolling it as he moved through the tunnels. The string would lead him back to the entrance.

The following day, Theseus and his companions were forced into the Labyrinth. Theseus tied the string onto a rock and told everyone to follow him. He led them towards the center of the Labyrinth where the Minotaur was. When they got there, they saw the beast sleeping. Theseus jumped on it and ripped off one of its horns. Theseus started poking with the horn at the Minotaur, who was furious. Then, Theseus ran to a safe distance and threw the horn like a javelin. The horn ripped into the monsters neck and was stuck there. The Minotaur, enraged, charged at Theseus, but fell dead before reaching him. Everyone cheered and Theseus became a hero! They followed the thread back to the entrance of the Labyrinth.

Theseus, Ariadne, and the rest of the tributes boarded the black-sailed ship and set sail for Athens. One night, the god Dionysus came to Theseus and said, "You mustn't marry Princess Ariadne, for I have chosen her as my own bride. Leave her on the island of Naxos." Theseus did as the god told him, but he was so sad that he forgot to change the sails. As the ship approached Athens, Aegeus sat on a cliff watching and waiting for Theseus to come; when he saw the black sails, he jumped into the sea. As a result, that fatal stretch of water was named after him and became the Aegean.



Ancient Athens

Greece: the Birthplace of Democracy



Ancient Corinth

Greece: the Home of Bellerophon



Ancient Olympia

Greece: the Cradle of the Olympic Games



Argos

Greece: the Sanctuary of Hera



Brauron

Greece: the Sanctuary of Artemis



Delos

Greece: the Birthplace of Apollo and Artemis



Delphi

Greece: the Ancient Center of the World



Eleusis

Greece: the Sacred Place of Demeter



Ephesus

Turkey: the Temple of Artemis



Etna

Italy: the Forge of Hephaestus



Mount Olympus

Greece: the Kingdom of the Olympian gods



Nisyros

Greece: the Bed of the Sleeping Giant



Paphos

Cyprus: the Birthplace of Aphrodite



Thebes

Greece: the Birthplace of Heracles



Thespiae

Greece: the Sanctuary of Eros



Meleager

Meleager was the son of King Oeneus of Calydon and Althaea. Seven days after his birth, the Fates appeared to foretell his future. Clotho and Lachesis predicted he would be noble and brave. Atropos warned him that he would die as soon as one of the sticks in the fireplace burned completely. Taking the hint, Althaea pulled the stick from the fire, put it out, and hid it in a safe place.

While still young, he came to be regarded as second only to Heracles in his abilities. He was the youngest of the Argonauts and according to some; he killed the Argonauts' chief enemy, King Aeetes of Colchis.

After he returned from this journey, he married Cleopatra and had a daughter, Polydora. His domestic tranquility was brought to an end when Artemis unleashed a fearsome boar in his homeland. He naturally took a leading role in killing the boar during what became known as the Calydonian Boar Hunt which led to his death.

There are two versions of Meleager's death; both start with a quarrel with his uncles over the prized boar skin. To understand what happened, it is necessary to know that Althaea was married to Oeneus to help settle a blood feud that may have gone on for generations. While his uncles came to help with the boar, there still would have been a lot of tension among them, the Calydonians and Althaea's brothers.

In the first version the quarrel over the prize led to a new war between Curetes and Calydon. This put Meleager in a terrible position, as he had relatives in both sides. Without his leadership, Calydon was on the verge of losing. His wife appealed to him to save the city. However, while leading Calydon, he killed his uncles. As a result, his mother cursed him and possibly burned the last stick the Fates had spoken of. In any case, the Erinyes then killed him to revenge for his killing of blood relatives.



The more romantic version of his death starts with Meleager awarding the prize to Atlanta because she drew first blood. Awarding the prize to a woman angered the rest of the hunting party, but most remained silent. However, his uncles felt that their position entitled them to give orders to Meleager. A quarrel ensued between them and Meleager killed his uncles. Upon hearing of her brother’s death by his hands, his mother burned the stick Fates had spoken of; as a result, Meleager died and Althaea then killed herself in remorse. Cleopatra then also committed suicide, driven by grief.


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