Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Myth of Perseus and the Gorgon (the short version)

Someone on badmovies.org asked how the Clash of the Titans movies (new and old) differ from the original Perseus myth, so I obliged by retelling the myth for them. Then I figured I should put it on the old blog, as well, so here it is.

Behold Acrisius, King of Argos. He has a daughter named Danae. According to prophecy, if Danae has a son, he will kill Acrisius, so Acrisius keeps Danae locked in the tower.

Behold Zeus. Zeus is horny, and Danae is hot. No locked tower will prevent Zeus from satisfying his lust.

Danae gives birth to a son, Perseus. Hoping to keep Perseus from growing up to kill him, Acrisius puts Danae and Perseus in a wood chest and sets them adrift on the sea.

Behold Polydectes, King of Seriphus. A girl with a baby just washed ashore in a wood chest. That’s something you didn’t see every day back then, so he grants them asylum in Seriphus.

Over time, Polydectes realizes that Danae is hot, so he starts to put the moves on her. Unfortunately, Perseus has grown into a strapping young demigod and master cock-blocker. Needing to get rid of Perseus, Polydectes tricks him into boasting that he could kill the gorgon Medusa (whose face will turn anyone who looks at it to stone) and bring back her head. Polydectes holds him to it, forcing him to go on a suicide quest.

Behold Hermes and Athena. Zeus has sent them to help get Perseus out of the mess he has found himself in. They provide him with some of the gods’ own magical artifacts: winged sandals that allow him to fly, a helmet that turns him invisible, a sword that will cut through pretty much anything, a shield with a reflective inner surface, and a satchel to carry Medusa’s head, if he ever gets it. They also give him directions to the Graeae.

Behold the Graeae, sisters of the Gorgons. The Graeae will know where Medusa sleeps at night. They’re not willing to give up their sister’s location easily, though. Funny thing: the Graeae only have one eye and one tooth among them. Perseus manages to snatch those and only gives them back after they have revealed the location of Medusa’s lair.

Cocky young demigod that he is, Perseus is no fool. Wearing the cap of invisibility, he approaches Medusa, looking only at her reflection in his shield, and cuts off her head while she sleeps. He drops her head into the satchel and starts flying back to Seriphus. (In some versions he is pursued by two other gorgons, sisters of Medusa, but being both invisible and soon airborne, he escapes.)

Behold Andromeda, a maiden tied to a rock by the sea. She is a sacrifice to the Kraken. Perseus spots her as he is flying home and thinks she’s hot. He lands by her father Cepheus, the king of Ethiopia, and offers to kill the monster and save her… if he can marry her. Cepheus agrees, and Perseus offs the Kraken (stories are fuzzy on whether he shows it Medusa’s head or just lays into it with his super-sharp sword).

Behold Phineus. He also thinks Andromeda is hot, but now she’s marrying some courageous foreigner who saved her from being eaten by a monster. Unfair! He gets a bunch of his buddies together to crash the wedding and kill the foreigner. Perseus shows them Medusa’s head, and they shut right up.

Perseus returns to Seriphus with Andromeda, where he finds that Polydectes has been getting super creepy and stalky with Danae. Perseus shows him Medusa’s head to put an end to that.

Hermes and Athena then pay a visit to congratulate Perseus and take back all of the magical artifacts he borrowed, as well as Medusa’s head, which he is starting to have a little too much fun with.

Some time later, Perseus participates in a sporting event in a neighboring kingdom. In the discus throw, he throws so far that the discus goes into the crowd and nails a guy in the head, killing him. Turns out to be King Acrisius, who had gone into hiding when he learned that Perseus had survived and grown up. (Don’t try to avoid prophecies. It never ends well.)

With Acrisius dead, Perseus is the heir to the throne of Argos. Good times.

Addendum: Why is Andromeda tied to a rock?

As noted, Andromeda is hot. So hot, in fact, that some people in Ethiopia (including her mother, Cassiopeia) said she was hotter than the Nereids (sea nymphs).

The Nereids heard that, and it pissed them off, so they complained to Poseidon.

Poseidon was always more into nymphs than humans, so he agreed to punish the tasteless mortals. He sent his hit-beast, the Kraken, to Ethiopia to either destroy the city or eat Andromeda. Their choice.

Second Addendum: What's a Kraken?

The Kraken is actually a sea monster from Scandinavian mythology, not Greek mythology, but it had a cool name, so the producers of the movies used it. The name of the monster in the Perseus myth is not always given, but it is sometimes identified as Cetus.

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