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.