Study Guide

Perseus and Medusa Perseus

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Perseus is one the most famous of all Greek heroes and he's still popular today. Both versions of the Clash of the Titans films (1981 and 2010) are based on his legendary exploits. Just like pretty much every action hero of today, he is brave, daring, and handsome, defeating all the villains in his way with ease.

Zeus, Jr.

Perseus is the mortal son of the god Zeus and a beautiful maiden named Danae. Zeus has a loooong history of cheating on his wife with pretty mortal girls, and the missus has an equally long history of punishing the girls and their children. Somehow, Danae and Perseus got off easy. Hera, Zeus' wife, doesn't seem to know about them. Maybe it's because, when Zeus impregnated Danae, he was disguised as a shower of golden water. Who knows? At any rate, Perseus should thank his luck stars that he didn't end up like his half-brother Heracles, who was hounded by Hera.

Though Perseus is Zeus's son, he's still mortal and doesn't seem to have any obvious superpowers. However, he's brave and skilled, and the gods seem to like him. We can't imagine that Athena and Hermes' would help out just any mortal guy. It probably helps that he has some Olympian blood.

Perseus Gets By with a Little Help from His Friends

Perseus may be determined and pretty clever, but he's still young and inexperienced when Polydectes orders the young man to bring him Medusa's head. It's a good thing, then, that Perseus gets some help from the gods.

Like many other questing heroes (we're thinking of Odysseus, Heracles, and Jason), Perseus gets a bit of advice and guidance from the goddess Athena (his half-sister). Though he's pretty awesome, we wouldn't bet on Perseus getting very far without a some of divine assistance. Yeah, we imagine him showing up at the cave of the Gorgons only to be turned to stone.

Luckily, Perseus has some gods on his side to offer advice. Also, like Batman, he has all sorts of useful gadgets for his mission. But unlike Batman, he's only borrowing them. These gadgets are also a form of assistance from the gods. He's got Hades' helmet of invisibility (a.k.a. Helm of Darkness), Hermes' winged sandals, and a fancy Gorgon-poison-proof bag.

Momma's Boy

Part of what makes Perseus likeable is that he's a good son. Who doesn't love a guy who protects his mom from nasty suitors? Perseus may not know that King Polydectes sent him off on a suicide mission in order to be alone with Danae, but once Perseus finds out, he's not happy. In a moment of total awesomeness, Perseus hands over Medusa's head to Polydectes, just like he asked for. The king is turned to stone and Danae is safe.

For much more on Perseus, click here.

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