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When Medusa Rears her Ugly Head

How Sérifos was petrified

antefix with head of Gorgona. Fasos island (?), 4 c. BC. Pushkin museum

Sérifos is the setting for one of the oldest Greek myths. When it was prophesied to Akrisios, king of Argos, that he would be slain by the son of his daughter Danaë, he locked the girl in an underground chamber. This failed to hide her from Zeus, however, who came to her in a shower of golden rain and fathered Perseus.

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Enraged but unable to put his daughter or grandson to death, Akrisios decided to leave the issue to fate and set them adrift in a chest. Zeus guided them to Sérifos, where a fisherman, Diktys, rescued them and took them in.

Polydektes, the king of Sérifos, lusted after Danaë but Perseus, as he grew older, stood in his way. One day, hearing the young man boast that he could kill Medusa, the only mortal of the three monstrous Gorgon sisters who lived beyond the Ocean and whose glance turned men to stone, Polydektes challenged him to do so, and threatened to take Danaë captive if he failed.

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Sidelights and Myths

Text © Dana Facaros

Images by Giorgio Ghisi , Jastrow, Creative Commons License, Numibuds, user:shakko