Study Guide

The Birth of Perseus Zeus

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The King of the Gods once again shows his incredible talent for finding creative ways to seduce young maidens. We really have to hand it to him. Cascading through the skylight of Danae's locked chamber as a shower of gold is pretty darn creative. Evidently, Danae is impressed as well, because not long after, little baby Perseus comes along. (Of course, it's not that Zeus ever takes no for an answer anyway.)

You could see Zeus's behavior in this myth as pretty revealing of his character. Here, he spies a beautiful maiden imprisoned against her will. Does he use his godly power to free her? Nope. He uses his godly power to impregnate her, and then he uses godly power to make a break for it. If you want to think better of Zeus, you could choose to believe that he knew Perseus would be born from his encounter with Danae, and he did it all to give the world a hero. (Hm, do you buy that?) In some versions, it's Zeus who makes sure that the floating chest makes it to Serifos, so maybe he's not all bad.

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