Miscellaneous Myths: Perseus

So, this is the first video in what’ll probably be a longish series of Miscellaneous Myths. Now initially, I’ll primarily be focusing on Greek mythology, as it’s one of the mythologies that’s been more influential to popular culture in the past millennia or so. But, I think we all know how bad I am at staying focused on one subject at a time, so we might roam pretty far afield in the series. Don’t get disoriented if we leave off in Thebes and start up again in Central America. Now, to start us off simply I’ll be covering a myth that you’re probably all at least *vaguely* familiar with, mostly because references to it got catapulted back into popular culture within the past few years. It’s the story of Perseus and Medusa. Now, as is often the case in Greek mythology, Perseus’ story begins long before Perseus actually does. In fact, it begins with ~a prophecy~ Now this particular prophecy isn’t as cushy is the last one we dealt with. In this case, the King Acrisius was told by an oracle that he was doomed to die at the hands of his grandson. Acrisius took this news about as well as you’d expect, and decided his only course of action was to lock his childless daughter Danae in an underground cell and basically leave her there to die of old age. You know I don’t often say this, but why don’t you just kill her?! But Zeus, who never met a mortal woman he didn’t want to make sweet sweet Eros to, spotted the beautiful Danae in her prison, and unwilling to let something like eternal solitary confinement stop him, turned himself into a rain of gold and showered himself into her cell, whereupon he made her pregnant and… left. Man, isn’t that just like a deity? You can bet he’s not gonna pay child support either. So Danae has a kid and her dad panics because of ~the prophecy~ and stuffs her and the kid into a trunk and throws it into the ocean. Je~sus! So the kind of father figures THIS kid has, it’s gonna be a miracle if he doesn’t grow up to be a psychopath! So Danae and her son, (Whose name as you’ve probably already guessed is Perseus) drift ashore on the tiny island of Seriphos where they’re taken in by a childless fisherman and his wife. So Perseus grows up with three parents and one absentee god-father, and his life is pretty chill. Until the King Polydectes decides that Perseus’ mom’s got it going on, and decides to make her marry him. However, Danae refuses, and Polydectes is too scared of Perseus to press the issue. So, like any *sane* Ruler he decides to get Perseus out of the way by sending the lad on a quest that’ll almost certainly kill him. And that way he’ll be able to get with Danae without any interference. Polydectes convinces Perseus to go out and slay the gorgon Medusa, a woman who had once been beautiful, but after she and Posiedon got busy in one of Athena’s temples, she was cursed by the goddess to have badass snake hair, and also be so hideous as to turn anyone who looks at her into stone. Modern interpretations usually make her super hot anyway but hey, whatever. So Perseus, young, hot, and full of crippling naïveté ventures out into the great wide world to find him a deadly gorgon. However, thanks to some divine nepotism, he’s given a leg up by the various Greek gods who give him some magic items to make the quest actually possible. Hermes gives him a sword and his winged sandals, and Athena gives him the mirror shield, because apparently petrifying ugliness only petrifies you if you look at it head-on. Then they tell him that he needs to visit the grey sisters in order to find out where the gorgons actually live. So he scoots on over there and gets the grey sisters to tell him where the Medusa lives by holding their eyeball hostage. It…makes just as much sense in context. Anyway, after marking the location on his map, Perseus goes to the next quest marker which happens to be the Garden of Hera (who’s oddly cool with his presence, despite her typical reaction to Zeus’ his kids) Anyway, the nymphs of the garden give Perseus a sack to hold Medusa’s Head, and a magic helmet to make him invisible. Magic helmet? Magic helmet?! Magic helmet. Guess which one of those is probably gonna be more useful? Magic helmet! Now, I wish I could tell you that Perseus and Medusa had some awesome final showdown, maybe with lightning, and rains of fire or something, BUT Perseus is a pragmatic hero. So he sneaks in while Medusa’s asleep and chops off her head. Well, that was easy. But this myth is…missing something. Well, a few things actually. Where’s the drama? The final showdown! Could we maybe throw in a princess or something? Ask and ye shall receive. As Perseus is flying home, he spots a beautiful princess (Whose name is Andromeda) chained to a rock by the ocean. When he pops down to ask her what’s up, she tells him that her mother managed to piss off the ocean itself, and it sent a sea monster to ravage the land. They can only make it stop if they sacrifice Andromeda. Now Perseus does what any red-blooded Greco-Roman hero would do and vows to slay the sea monster and save the princess. And he does. Okay, fine. Perseus flies around the thrashing beast, frantically dodging as it does its absolute best to swallow the young prince whole, but Perseus is too nimble for the cumbersome creature and wears down its defenses little by little until finally, Finally, the Monster lays Slain at his feet. Happy? So Perseus returns home to Polydectes and delivers the Medusa’s head to him, unsurprisingly petrifying him and his entire court of bad guys in one fell swoop. Then he and Andromeda get married, the fisherman who saved him as a baby becomes king, and everyone ends up happy. Oh, but what about the prophecy? Well, see, a few years later, King Acrisius visits the basically olympics in the city of Larissa, whereupon Perseus accidentally beans him with a discus. The End!
Video source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bzFCbUC4c7s

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