Posts Tagged "perseus"

The Story (Sort Of) of Perseus | Part I

Dear Kid,

Once upon a time there was a king names Acrisius who had a beautiful daughter named Danae. (There are a lot of unfamiliar characters in this story, so try to pay attention and I’ll try to make it clear.

Acrisius was living a relatively happy kingly sort of life until the Oracle of Apollo told him that one day Danae’s son would kill him. So Acrisius did the only “reasonable” thing his little kingly mind (emphasis on little) could think of and locked Danae in a tower so she’d never have babies.

This type of birth control is known as the Tower Method. In mythology, it is generally 0% effective.

The things about Oracles is that they are ALWAYS (emphasis on the ALWAYS) right (emphasis on correct). They probably don’t work out the way one thinks they will, but you can never (emphasis on never) outsmart them. You can try to outsmart them, but that works out exactly never (emphasis on never).

So the whole tower thing was a dumb idea (even if Danae didn’t have hair long enough to climb up), but Acrisius was not known as a Rhodes Scholar. So there was Danae in the horrible tower, with no cell service, and no curling iron or makeup but looking forlornly beautiful nonetheless.

Once day, Zeus showed up on Danae’s window sill. Guess what happened?

Some time later, Acrisius checked on Danae and found her sitting in her tower with a gorgeous demigod of a son sitting in her lap.

Instead of falling in love with his new grandson grandgod, Acrisius put both mama (Danae) and baby (Perseus) in a chest and tossed them into the sea (emphasis on Stupid in So Many Ways).

Chest travel being one of the relatively less reliable forms of transportation, Acrisius thought he’d gotten rid of them for good and could ignore the Oracle. But what did we say about oracles? Like mothers, they are always right.

Eventually, a fisherman hauled in the chest and was quite surprised to find Danae and baby Perseus, but he took them to land and dried them off and Perseus proceeded to grow up, the son of a single mother, in the land ruled by King Polydectes.

You no doubt remember that Danae was beautiful. King Polydectes was not blind and asked Danae to marry him. She said, “Thanks but no thanks.”

As King, old Polydectes could have taken her by force, but by this time Perseus had grown up into something of a stud. A mom-protecting stud (as all young men should be). Which—in Polydectes’ mind—made Perseus a Problem to Be Dealt With and he came up with a Plan (emphasis on don’t mess with sons who are protecting their moms).

King Polydectes pretended to marry some chick and told everyone to bring a wedding present. Somehow, Danae didn’t add Perseus’ name to the gift, leaving Perseus giftless. (This was a major #FAIL on Danae’s part since she should have known better. But she’d been locked in a tower for a long time and one tends to forget princess etiquette in a tower. Besides, if she’d put his name on the gift we wouldn’t have a story.)

Polydectes pretended to be furious at the slight and provoked Perseus into an argument. Being young and mad Perseus offered to bring Polydectes anything he wanted. The king asked for Medusa’s head.

Let’s review: Medusa turns people (even demigods) who look at her into stone. Quite a useful defense mechanism. Effectiveness rate to this point in the story: 100%. She had been turned into Hideous Medusa by Athena who (for the record) was still seriously ticked off.

Perseus stomped off. After a few days, he realized he didn’t know where he was going, he’d forgotten to bring a GPS, and he had no idea how to fight a Gorgon.

Things were not looking good for Our Hero.

Tune in tomorrow to find out how this ends.

Love, Mom

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The Story of Medusa and Pissing Off the Gods

Dear Kid,

Once upon a time there was a beautiful maiden who was one of Athena’s priestesses.

Since we’re talking about Greek mythology, it will not surprise you to learn that the beautiful maiden made a Horrible Mistake and royally pissed off Athena. As previously noted, one should not go around angering the gods.

As you doubtless (without a doubt) remember, Athena is the goddess of Wisdom and War. Which means not only can she kick your butt to New Jersey and back, she’ll be smart about it.

In this particular case, Beautiful Medusa’s (that was the beautiful maiden’s name) Big Mistake was temporarily forgetting that (as a priestess of Athena) she was supposed to be celibate. She married Poseidon who immediate made sure she wasn’t celibate a moment longer.

Athena was less than amused to see one of her priestesses poo-poo her vows and turned Beautiful Medusa into Hideous Medusa. Hideous Medusa was beyond unattractive. She had snakes instead of hair; horrid, bloodshot, bulgy eyes; and her skin was ghastly green. Seventeen Magazine did not ask her to pose for their August cover.

Just to make matters worse (and by “worse” I mean more interesting for the story), Athena cursed Medusa so that anyone who looked at Hideous Medusa would turn immediately into stone.

Note: It is impossible to eat chocolate if you’re made of stone.

Hideous Medusa was greatly unhappy (duh) and wandered around Africa shedding hair-snakes which is why there are so many poisonous snakes in Africa.

Eventually Medusa was killed by Perseus, but that’s another story for another day.

Interesting, when Perseus killed Medusa, she gave birth to Chrysaor and Pegasus (the white, flying horse with beautiful wings, second only to unicorns as the animal little girls want to have. Or be.). If you’re into genealogy, Poseidon was the papa (you remember the whole lack of celibacy thing, right?).

Now you know.

Love, Mom

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Venus, Cassiopeia, Orion, and Unhealthy Vanity

Dear Kid,

If you happen to live in this hemisphere, and if you happen to be awake early enough in the morning that it is still dark, and if you happen to be outside, and if it happens to be reasonably cloudless, take a moment to look up.

Right now, Venus is shining so brightly it hurts. You can tell it’s Venus because it is far too bright to be a star and it’s not moving particularly quickly (you might think it’s an airplane, but it’s Venus).

I love the constellations this time of year. Cassiopeia is one of my favorites. This is probably my favorite time of year for stars. I love seeing Orion and Cassiopeia (she’s the one that looks like a W [unless it’s an M]) in the sky. They are larger than life this time of year and wonderful fall constants.

I’m guessing you don’t know the story of Cassiopeia. So, being the kind of mom I am, I shall tell it to you.

Queen Cassiopeia was the wife of King Cepheus. She was beautiful and vain (you know that when you add Queen plus Mythology plus Vain the story is not going to have a happy ending for the queen).

Cassiopeia boasted that both she (Cassiopeia) and her daughter (Andromeda) were more beautiful than all the Nereids, the nymph daughters of one of the lesser sea gods. Again, if you think you’re more beautiful than a god’s daughters, if you ARE more beautiful than a god’s daughter – perhaps especially if you are – keep your silly mouth shut about it. Look beautiful, be humble, live long.

Not so much for Cassiopeia.

She made her views on her beauty perfectly clear. And Poseidon (head god of the sea) got royally annoyed.

An angry sea god is not a trifling matter, what with him being in charge of floods, earthquakes, and sea monsters all of which can severely damage the infrastructure of a country and the inhabitants therein.

So Cepheus (the king) and Cassiopeia (the queen) decided to consult an oracle to find out What To Do. And once one (or in this case two) has consulted an oracle, one had best do what one is told because otherwise why did you ask?

The oracle said to sacrifice Andromeda. “Oh, the waste of such beauty,” said Cassiopeia, “but at least it’s not me.” So they chained Andromeda to a rock at the edge of the sea where she could look beautiful and await a sea monster.

Fortunately for Andromeda, Perseus happened to be flying by with his borrowed winged shoes (he’d just killed Medusa), and being a Hero kind of guy he rescued her and eventually married her.

To recap, everyone was now happy except Poseidon who thought that Cassiopeia had just weaseled her way out of a red card. So he tied her to a chair and stuck her in the sky in such a way that she is right side up half the time and upside down the rest of the time.

No word on whether Cassiopeia likes rollercoasters or gets sea sick when she’s upside down.

Enjoy the fall stars. And Venus.

Love, Mom

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High School Football and the Persied Meteor Showers

sycamore-football-helmetDear Kid,

High school Football Practice Season is in full swing with doubles and singles and staying-after-practice-to-work-some-more. The Green and Gold scrimmage is this weekend and it is not at all clear who will be kicking. All we can say for sure at the moment is that you are related to the only football player with a hot red streak in her hair.

We also know that the scrimmage and the BBQ (which I’m guessing means “food” but not “bar-be-que”) will be at the high school now that the new field is ready. says there will be scattered showers on Saturday which I interpret to mean there will be a monsoon that will last just as long as we want to be outside. Yipee.

Dad is talking about watching the Persied meteor showers this weekend. I believe they peak early next week but since the best time for watching is some crazy hour of the middle of the night (an hour suitable for college kids and newborns, but not for me) I’m not sure what we’ll actually see. I can guarantee that if there are monsoons I will be snug in a dry bed not lounging on the driveway hoping to see pieces of burning comet debris.

Persied refers to the Sons of Perseus. You may recall that Perseus was the son of Zeus and Danae. (Not recalling? Read on.) Perseus grew into a strong young man and an excellent warrior (which happened a lot in those days). He was a Good Kid who protected his mom (you see why this is an important story?) and the king sent him off to kill Medusa hoping that while Perseus was away and mom had no one to protect her he (the king) would get friendly with mama. (For the record, while Perseus was gone Danae—the mom—did quite a credible job of taking care of herself.)

Medusa was a Gorgon in a perpetual state of Bad Hair Days (her hair was snakes), and she was so, um, attractive that everyone who saw her turned instantly to stone. You would think this would make her an excellent curator for a statue museum, but apparently Gorgons don’t think that way.

Skipping over some of the good parts of the story (involving sharing eyeballs and dental implants and which you may research from the comfort of your own room if you like), Perseus got some help from Athena and Hermes (it just all ties together, doesn’t it? I love mythology.). He avoided becoming a pile of rubble by looking at Medusa only in the reflection of his shield, lopping off her head with utmost efficiency, and stuffing it into a handy trash bag.

He sped off home to check on his mom, who was handling herself but getting a little tired of the king’s nonsense, so Perseus used the head as a Weapon of Mass Destruction and turned a bunch of royalty and courtiers into stone. After a while he gave the head to Athena as a decoration for her aegis (a fancy word for shield or breastplate). Which all goes to show that Goddesses are not like the rest of us, because I can guarantee that most girls would not be impressed with a rotting, snake-haired head as a gift.

Perseus married Andromeda who he had rescued on the way back from Medusa killing (but that’s another story for another day). They had a bunch of sons with impossible to pronounce names who are now immortalized as flaming bits of comet dust.

Hope you have an easy to pronounce, dust-free day.

Love, Mom

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