Friday, May 11, 2012
Mythical Monarchial Figures: Prince Perseus
The King threw himself a party but when Perseus arrived he forgot to bring the King a present. Oops! I’m sure Polydectes was saying, “What? No present? I save your life, the life of your mother, I take you both in and you can’t even bring me a blender? A necktie, cufflinks, nothing? Ungrateful little snot!” Not wanting to appear rude, Perseus promised to get the King any gift at all that he desired. Aha! Opportunity knocks! Polydectes therefore asks Perseus to bring him the head of the Gorgon Medusa. As most probably know, Medusa was a gorgeous woman with lovely long hair who made the sea god Poseidon mad with lust and the two got freaky in the Temple of Athena. Well, the goddess caught them in the act and was thoroughly outraged and turned Medusa into a horrible monster with snakes for hair who would cause any living thing to turn to stone simply by looking at her. So, important safety tip for anyone going to Greece: don’t do the nasty in a temple -it’s not a good idea. But, Perseus has to kill this woman-monster thing, because he promised and he’ll look really bad if he doesn’t keep his word. But, he knows he will need help to do it and he doesn’t even know where to find Medusa. However, Athena was still nursing her grudge and she gives Perseus a little hint, telling him where to find some of the other sisters of the Gorgon sisters who can tell him where to find her and where to get help.
He found them and there was an epic battle of the ages, man against monster … well, not really. Actually, Perseus slipped in while the three were asleep, looked at Medusa’s reflection in his shield so he wouldn’t turn to stone and cut her head off before anyone knew he was there. Her two sisters woke up, quite outraged (they were immortal so their ugly sister didn’t turn them to stone) took after Perseus to kill him but he slapped on his trusty “Helmet of Darkness” and slipped away. It was from the neck of the dead Medusa that the flying horse Pegasus sprang but, although he features prominently in all the movies, Pegasus really didn’t have much to do with this story. Who needs to worry about taking care of a horse when you have magic flying sandals? Perseus puts Medusa’s head in his magic bag and is flying back home when he happens to pass by the Kingdom of Ethiopia (not the one in Africa, this was before that) and he sees a devastatingly gorgeous girl chained to a rock about to be eaten by a giant sea monster. What? What’s that? Does someone require a dashing hero to save the pretty, helpless, damsel in distress? Perseus to the rescue! In most modern tellings of this tale, saving this down-on-her-luck babe is the whole point of killing Medusa but, in fact, it was all purely coincidental. Perseus just happened to be flying by at the right place at the right time.
Perseus swoops down and saves the vivacious victim by turning the sea monster to stone using the head of Medusa. The sea monster, who was not the Kraken who was not a Titan didn’t even really have a name. The story says “Cetus” but that was a name for pretty much anything big and scary that lived in the sea. Anyway, Cetus became Ethiopia’s biggest seaside statue and Perseus decides he wants to marry Princess Andromeda. She probably looked really hot chained to that stone with her pouty lips and tear-filled eyes. Problem is she’s already engaged. Awkward! What is a princess to do? Marry the man she’d already promised to or marry the half-god man who saved her from the sea monster? It hardly seems fair but, Perseus makes it easy by whipping out his trusty head of Medusa and turning her old flame to Stone Cold Steve Austin. Perseus flies back home, turns Polydectes to stone and frees his mother to marry her true love Dictys (wonder how he got that name) though while flying over Libya he spilled some of Medusa’s blood on the sand and created a race of monstrous serpents. Oops! But eventually they died, became petroleum and supported a notorious dictator for several decades. Perseus takes Andromeda back to Argos to claim his original throne and they live happily ever after, making babies who eventually became the Persians. Or something like that. It had to be a pretty happy marriage. I bet Andromeda never nagged her husband. “What’s that dear? You don’t feel like doing the dishes? Well, it’s a good thing I ‘DID feel like it’ when you were chained to that rock by your psycho mother about to be eaten alive by a giant sea snake…Yeah, that’s what I thought. And bring me a beer!”
And so, there you have it, the story of the mythological Greek hero Perseus according to The Mythically Mad Monarchist.