Whether you paid attention to your lessons about Greek Mythology during 10th grade, or you’re a big fan and avid reader of Rick Riordan and his bestselling Percy Jackson series, we bet you’re quite familiar with the tale of Medusa and the great hero Perseus. And if you haven’t, then you’re in for a treat. Here are 10 awesome facts about Perseus:
Fact 1: How Perseus was conceived isn’t quite like how other babies are. Then again, if your father is Zeus, then talk about the birds and the bees is far from the usual Kama Sutra. When Zeus was enamored by Perseus’ mortal mother, he turned himself into a shower of gold in order to impregnate her while she was in prison.
Fact 2: Why the prison you ask? Danae’s father, King Acrisius, was frustrated beyond belief when he and his wife Queen Eurydice just couldn’t have a male heir. Desperate, he consulted an oracle in the hopes that his circumstances would change. To his horror, the oracle told him that he would be killed by his daughter’s son. Hell bent on keeping Danae childless, he locked her up into a bronze tower.
Fact 3: Once Perseus was born, the King devised an evil plan that would rid him of the pair without causing too much of an uproar from the gods. He had his daughter and grandchild locked up in a wooden chest and thrown into the sea. Upon Zeus’ request, Poseidon calmed the waters, and the chest was cast safely to shore. The two were found by a fisherman named Dictys, who also happened to be the brother of King Polydectes.
Fact 4: In a sky full of stars, Perseus snags the 24th spot on the list of the largest constellations, spanning an area of 615 square degrees. Located within the first quadrant of the Northern Hemisphere, you can locate this bad boy at latitudes between +90° and -35°. Neighboring constellations include Andromeda, Aries, Auriga, Camelopardalis, Cassiopeia, Taurus, as well as Triangulum.
Fact 5: King Polydectes fell in love with Danae and wanted her for himself. Uninterested in the King, Danae let her son shut down the King’s advances. To his anger, he sent Perseus on a dangerous task he hoped the young demigod would not survive: to fetch the head of the Gorgon Medusa.
Fact 6: On his journey to the island where the Gorgon sisters resided, he came across the gods and their gifts. Athena bestowed upon him a shield made out of polished bronze, Hermes; a pair of winged sandals and an adamantine sword (the very one that Zeus used to chop up his father Kronos into bits), and finally Hades with a helmet of invisibility or darkness, and a pouch that could fit anything in to it.
Fact 7: Armed with the gods’ blessing and gifts, he went forth and snuck into the cave using the helmet of invisibility. The Gorgon sisters were grey and hideous looking creatures, with a head full of snakes and a glare that could turn any man who looked right at them in to stone. Perseus seized the monster Medusa (the only mortal among the three sisters, as Euryale and Stheno were immortal) by looking at her reflection on the shield, chopping her head off with the sword, and swiftly scooping it into the pouch.
Fact 8: Victorious, he embarked on his journey back home to Seriphos when he stumbled upon what appeared to be a woman strapped to rock. The maiden’s name was Andromeda, daughter of the King Cepheus of Phoenecia. Her mother boasted that Andromeda was fairer than all the Nereids. Poseidon was angered by this, and it resulted in the King’s daughter becoming a sacrifice to the sea monster in order to appease the god of the sea. Fastened naked to a rock, she awaited certain doom until Perseus appeared. As she spoke of her tale, a serpent named Cetus rose from the sea. Perseus quickly grabbed Medusa’s head from the pouch and the monster perished.
Fact 9: Perseus and Andromeda had children together, namely: Perses, Alcaeus, Heleus, Mestor, Sthenelus, Electryon, Cynurus, Gorgophone, and lastly Autochthe.
Fact 10: It was believed that while Perseus was flying across the sands of Libya, the poisonous blood which came from Medusa’s severed head dripped as he went, and turned into a race of toxic serpents. One of which was responsible for the death of the Argonaut Mopsus.