Perseus: Powerful Demigod wth Mighty Weapons
The story of Perseus is adventurous, as indeed befits a demigod. His grandfather was the king of Argos, Acrisius, who with his wife, Eurydice, had a daughter Danae. But Acrisius wanted a son. He went to the Oracle of Delphi who told him that, not only would he have another child, but that child would be killed by the hand of a child born to his daughter. To prevent this, he built an underground chamber and covered the walls with steel plates, closing Danae in with her maid and surrounding them with guards so Danae could not have contact with any man. Their only access to the outside world was through an overhead window.
We should note here that in the Agora of Argos existed an underground chamber in which it was said the steel room of Danae had been built that, according to Pausanias (150 AD), was destroyed by the Argos tyrant Perilaus.
Zeus, however, visited Danae in the form of golden rain and joined with her. This was a common practice for Jupiter—changing forms so that he could copulate with female humans—and is a strange phenomenon found in many ancient mythologies and religions. Interesting enough, a recently discovered ancient Coptic text appears to suggest that Jesus also had the ability to shape shift. (Even if we accept that Jupiter, as a god, had the ability to transform, we have to ask ourselves what made him wish to acquire offspring with humans?)
The fruit of the union between Zeus and Danae was a son named Perseus who Danae managed to hide from her father for some time. When Acrisius did find out about the birth of this child, he ordered the maid to be killed and had Danae and Perseus enclosed in a shrine and thrown into the sea. Waves led the shrine to the coast of Serifos, which is where Perseus grew and become a strong man. The shrine was found, or angled, by Dictys. (It is worth noting the similarity to Moses who, according to the Bible, was left in the Nile inside a box of papyrus.). Dictys probably lived in the famous "Cave of the Cyclop," as the shrine could have washed up on the beach at the front of the cave.
Dictys was a fisherman and the brother of the king of the island, Polydeuces, or Pollux. Dictys hosted the two cumbersome people in his home, and they became members of his family; but his brother, King Pollux, wished Danae to be his wife and denied Dictys this union with her. Another obstacle to the king was Danae’s son, Perseus. Pollux proclaimed his marriage with Hippodamia and asked that each inhabitant of the island provide the wedding gift of a horse. Perseus, being a fisherman, had no horses but pledged to bring the king the head of Medusa, the Gorgon, instead. Pollux readily accepted this commitment, as no man had ever returned alive from an encounter with a Gorgon. Pollux decided to keep Danae in the palace until Perseus returned with Medusa’s head.
Medusa was one of the three mermaids which, according to Hesiod, lived across the ocean at the edge of the earth near the Night. Unlike her sisters who were immortal, Medusa was mortal. According to one version of the myth, she was thought to be beautiful and was raped by Poseidon. An angry Athena then cursed her and turned her into a terrible monster, though early versions of the myth claimed she was already a scaly monster with snakes entwined in her copper locks, pig tusks, large mouths, and large eyes that shot lightning. All who met her terrible gaze were said to be turned to stone.
Perseus left Serifos on a ship in search of Medusa. On the way he met Athena and Hermes, who told him how to kill the Medusa and, along with the nymphs, gave him the following weapons:
* The helmet of Hades to make him invisible as he approached his target.
* A magic bag in which to put the terrible head.
* Winged sandals to fly him to the rock in the middle of the sea where Medusa resided.
* The glittering shield to look upon Medusa.
* A sharp sword or scythe, which would cut through the hard neck of Medusa.
It was Athena who gave him the glittering shield and Hermes his winged sandals, though according to another source the helmet Kinos, or Hades, the winged sandals and the magic bag were given to him by the nymphs, and he received the sharp sword and the helmet Kinos when Athena led him to the land of the Hyperboreans (testimony derived from Pindar) where he offered a sacrifice.