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Mythology of the constellation Perseus

King Acrisius of Argos was warned by an oracle that one day he would be killed by his own grandson. To prevent any likelihood of this ever happening, he locked away his beautiful daughter, Danae, so that no man could ever reach her. But this did not stop the god Zeus, with his fondness for mortal women. He entered her prison and Perseus (per Zeus, sired by Zeus) was the result. Dismayed, Acrisius put his daughter and her child into a wooden chest and set them adrift on the high seas. But luck smiled upon them and they eventually reached the island of Seriphos, which was under the rule of King Polydectes. This king fell in love with the lovely Danae, but saw that the depth of her feelings for Perseus would be a barrier to his own chances of winning her undivided loyalty. He therefore sent the adventurous youth on many missions, the most dangerous being to bring back the head of Medusa. Medusa was one of three Gorgon sisters, all so unbelievably ugly that anyone who ever looked at them would immediately be turned to stone. Before setting off on his mission, the goddess Athena presented him with a highly polished shield, and this was to prove invaluable. After finding the three Gorgons sleeping, by using the shield as a mirror he was able to approach Medusa without actually looking directly at her. He swiftly cut off her head with his sword, and the winged horse Pegasus sprang from her body. Placing the head in a bag, Perseus climbed upon Pegasus and started on his homeward journey. Nearing Ethiopia, he heard a woman's screams and was just in time to rescue Andromeda, who was to become his wife. Many years later, the oracle's prediction came true when Perseus accidently struck his grandfather Acrisius with a discus during a sporting event and killed him.

See also Legend of Andromeda.

 

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