| Gods and Heroes|
|by Robert Edward Francillon|
|One of the best introductions to Greek mythology for children. Includes the stories of all the prominent gods and heroes, woven together into a continuous narrative, ending with a full treatment of the twelve labors of Hercules. Ages 8-12 |
THE ADVENTURES OF PERSEUS
NCE upon a time there was a king of Argon named
Acrĭsius, to whom it had been foretold that he
would be slain by his daughter's son.
This troubled him greatly. So he built a high tower
of brass, and imprisoned his daughter Dănăë in the
very highest room. Having furnished her with provisions
and amusements to last her all her life, he
closed up all the entrances, so that nobody could get
into the tower, and set guards all round it, so that
nobody could even come near it. He did all this so
that she should never marry and have a son who would
grow up to kill him.
You may imagine what sort of a life Danae led, shut
up in the brazen tower. She was made comfortable
enough, and had plenty to eat and drink, and musical
instruments, and pictures, and jewels, and all such
things; but she never, from year's end to year's end,
saw a face, except when she looked into the looking-glass,
nor heard a voice but when she sang to herself—which
she soon got tired of doing. She could not
 even look out of the window, because there were no
windows to look from. She lived by lamplight, and
she knew that this was to be her life for all the rest
of her days.
So Acrisius felt safe and satisfied, and thought he
had baffled Fate very cleverly indeed. And thus things
went on for many years—what endless years they must
have been to the imprisoned princess!—till one day
she heard a little chinking noise, as if a gold coin had
fallen upon the brazen floor of her room. She did not,
however, pay any particular heed; indeed, she must
by that time have got used to all sorts of queer fancies.
But presently she heard it again. And, looking down
in an idly way, sure enough she saw a couple of gold
coins lying on the floor.
That seemed rather odd, for whence could they have
come? Then a third coin joined the two others, and,
raising her eyes to the ceiling, she saw coin after coin
coming through a crack so small that she had not
known till now that it was there. Faster and faster
came the coins, till they became a shower, and the
heap of gold on the floor stood higher than her head.
Then the shower ceased, and the crack was still so
small that she could not see whence the coins had
fallen. As she stood wondering, the heap began to
stir itself; the gold pieces melted into a single mass,
which gradually seemed to take life and form. At
 last, where the gold had been, she saw the form of a
man, but so stately and royal, and so much grander
and nobler than any mere man could be, that she fell
upon her knees before him.
"I am Jupiter," said he, raising her, "and I have
chosen you to be my earthy bride."
So just that little crack in the ceiling, only just
big enough for a thin gold coin to squeeze through, brought
about what Acrisius had been at such trouble to prevent.
And in time the news came to the king that
a child had been heard crying in the brazen tower.
He broke his way in, hurried up the staircase to the
highest room, and there, to his rage and terror, he
found Danae with a child, a boy, in her arms.
But he was determined not to let fate conquer him.
He could not very well have his daughter and grandson
put to death—at least openly. But he had them
carried out to sea and then turned adrift in a small
leaky boat without sail, oars, or rudder, so that they
were certain to be drowned. This having been done,
Acrisius felt happy and comfortable again.
Now there lived on the little island of Serīphus,
more than two hundred miles away, an honest fisherman
named Dictys. It is often rough weather about
there, and bad for fishing; but he was a brave and
skilful sailor, and the weather, in order to keep him
ashore, had to be very rough indeed. You may think,
 therefore, how bad the weather was when, for the first
time in his life, he was unable to cast his nets for many
days and nights together,—so many that he began to
wonder what in the world he should do to get food for
his wife and children. He used to lie awake listening
to the howling wind and roaring sea, and then, going
down to the beach, sought for food among the rocks
and pools, thinking himself lucky if he could find a
damaged crab or a bunch of eatable sea-weed.
One morning while he was searching about with a
heavy heart, he, passing a jutting rock, came suddenly
upon a young and handsome woman, in clothes all torn
and drenched by the waves, sitting with a baby in her
lap, and forlornly rocking herself to and fro. Hard by
were the broken timbers of a boat, which had doubtless
been blown ashore by the wind. Dictys questioned
her kindly, but she could not or would not answer; so,
taking her by the hand, he led her to his cottage, where
his wife, who was as good-hearted as he, made a big
fire of wreck-wood, and gave the mother and child a
share of what food they had left, though it could ill
be spared. From their famished looks he judged that
they must have been tossing about on the waves for
many days. But though the woman thanked him gratefully,
with tears in her eyes, she did not tell him anything
of her story except what he could see for himself—that
she had been lost at sea.
 "Perhaps she has lost her memory," he said to his
wife, when their guests were sleeping, worn out with
all they had gone through. What is to be done? We
do not even know who they are."
"And look at their clothes!" said his wife. "For
all their being in rags, they might have been made for
a queen and a queen's son. But whoever they are,"
she said with a sigh, "we can't let them perish of
hunger and cold. I never saw such a beautiful child—not
even among our own."
Dictys sighed still more deeply, for to be burdened
with two more mouths to feed in those bad times was a
serious thing, even though his heart also bled for the
misery of the mother and the beauty of the boy. . . .
"I have it, wife!" he exclaimed at last. "As soon as
they are rested, and as I've nothing else to do, worse
luck, I'll take them to the king. He'll do something
for them, I'm sure. And if he doesn't, why, we must
do what we can, that's all, and hope for better times."
So when the mother and child were quite rested and
refreshed, Dictys set off with them for the king's palace,
doing his best to cheer them by the way. Seriphus is
a very little island, not more than a dozen miles round,
so they had not to go far, and fortunately they found
the king at home. The King of Seriphus at that time
was Polydectes, who, having heard the fisherman's
story, and being struck with the beauty and high-born
 air both of the woman and of the child, kept them in
his own palace, treated them as guests whom he
delighted to honor, and was much too polite to ask
questions. The mother told nobody anything except
that her child's name was Perseus, and that hers was
Perseus grew up into such splendid manhood that for
a long time Polydectes was fond and proud of him, and
treated him as if he were his own son. He was strong
and handsome, brave, noble-minded, and marvelously
accomplished both in mind and body. He was devoted
to his mother; and he could never do enough to show
his gratitude to Dictys the fisherman, who had been
kind to her in her need. But his very virtues became
his misfortune. Polydectes gradually became jealous
of him, for he could not help seeing that the people of
Seriphus loved and honored Perseus more than the
king himself, and he was afraid that they might rebel
and make Perseus their king. Besides that, he wanted
to have Danae in his power, and without a protector, so
that he might marry her against her will. Therefore
he bethought him of a plot by which he could get rid
of Perseus forever in a seemingly honorable way.
So one day he called the young man to him, and said:—
"Perseus, I know how brave you are, and how fond
of all sorts of difficult adventures. Did you ever hear
 of the Gorgons? Well, the Gorgons are three terrible
demon sisters who live in the middle of Africa. Their
bodies are covered with scales like dragons, which no
spear can pierce; their hands are brazen claws; they
have snakes instead of hair, just like the Furies—I
mean the Eumenides; and they have teeth as long as
the tusks of a wild boar; and whoever looks upon them
is turned to stone. All three are dreadful; but the
one who is named Medusa is the most dreadful of all.
Now I have been thinking, as you are so fond of adventures,
you might go and cut off Medusa's head. It
would be something to be proud of for the rest of your
Perseus was rather taken aback by such an errand.
In the first place, he did not know where to find the
Gorgons; in the second place, how was he to kill a
creature who would turn him into stone by one glance
of her eyes? But he was much too brave to refuse, or
even to think of refusing. "I will just bid my mother
good-bye, and then I will start at once," said he. He
did not tell his mother what he had undertaken to do
for fear of alarming her; but he said good-bye to her
as cheerfully as if he were only going for a night's
fishing with their friend the fisherman. Then, having
asked Dictys to take care of his mother till he came
back again, he lay down to get a little sleep before
He had a curious dream. He thought that Pluto,
Minerva, and Mercury came to his bedside, and that
each made him a parting present. Pluto gave him a
helmet, Minerva a shield, and Mercury a pair of sandals,
with little wings fastened to them, and a curious
weapon, of which the blade was shaped like a scythe,
and made of a single diamond. But the dream was not
so strange as what he found when he woke. There, on
his bed, actually lay the helmet, the shield of polished
steel, the winged sandals, and the scythe-shaped dagger.
Well, somebody must have put them there. Perhaps
they were parting gifts from King Polydectes.
So first he put on the helmet; then he placed the
weapon in his belt; then he slung the shield over his
shoulders; last of all, he bound the winged sandals on
his feet, and when the wings spread themselves at his
heels, and carried him high up into the air, he began to
think that the visit of the gods must have been something
more than a dream.
He went up so high that the earth looked like a large
map spread out below him, on which the island of
Seriphus seemed but a mere speck in the sea over which
he was drifting southward. After many hours of this
strange sort of travel, he began to descend, and came
down upon his feet in the middle of a hot sandy plain,
where neither hill nor tree nor water was to be seen.
He could not tell where he was. But he did not lose
 courage; and he set out across the desert, knowing that
if he kept straight on in one direction, he must reach
somewhere or other in time.
But not till nearly nightfall did he see, in the far
distance, a cluster of palm-trees—the sure sign of
water, which his long journey over the hot and glaring
sand, under the blazing sun, had made him need sorely.
Reaching the palm-trees at last, he found, in the midst
of the cluster, a wooden hut. Wondering that anybody
should live in such a place, but hoping to find food and
guidance, he knocked boldly on the door with the hilt
of his sword, and was bidden, by a hoarse, cracked
voice, to come in.
He entered, and found three very old women warming
their hands at a few burning sticks, although it was
so hot in the desert that Perseus could hardly bear the
weight of his shield. As he came in, the three crones
turned their faces towards him; and he saw that one of
them had only one eye and no teeth, that another had
only one tooth and no eye, and that the third had
neither teeth nor eyes.
"I am a traveler," said Perseus, "and have lost my
way. Will you kindly tell me where I am?"
"Come in and show yourself," said the crone who
had the eye, sharply. "I must see who you are before
I answer," she added, though her one eye was looking
straight at him all the while.
 "Here I am," said Perseus, stepping into the middle
of the room. "I suppose you can see me now."
"It's very strange—very strange!" said the old
woman. "Sisters, I hear a man's voice, but I see no
"Nonsense, sister!" said the one who had the tooth.
"You can't have put the eye in right. Let me try."
To the amazement of Perseus, the first old woman
took out her eye and passed it to the second, who, after
giving it a polish, put it into her own face and looked
round; but she also saw nothing.
The two wrangled for a while as to whether there
was anything to be seen; and then the eye was passed
round to the third sister. But she also failed to see
Perseus, through the eye rolled in her head, and glowed
like a live coal.
And so they kept passing the eye round from one to
another, and yet nothing could they see. At last
Perseus, feeling terribly hot and tired, took off Pluto's
helmet to cool himself, when suddenly—
"There he is! I see him now!" exclaimed the old
woman who, at the moment, happened to be using the
The Perseus found out that his helmet made him
invisible when he put it on; and he had already found
out the use of his sandals. Perhaps the other gifts
would have their uses too.
 He let the old women have a good look at him each
in turn, and then said—
"I am very hungry and thirsty and tired, and don't
know where I am. Will you give me a little food, and
tell me who such kind ladies are, and what this place
is, and put me on the right road to where I want to go?"
It was the one who happened to have the eye in her
head that always spoke.
"We will give you some food," said she, "for you
seem a very well-behaved young man. This place is
the great desert of Libya" (which is what we now
call the desert of Sahara, in Africa) "and we are
three sisters, called the Graiæ. And where do you
want to go?"
"I want to visit the Gorgons, and particularly
Medusa," said he. "Do you happen to know where
"Of course we know, for they are our own kinswomen!
But never, no, never, will we tell you where
they live, or the way to get there. Never will we let
so handsome a youth be turned into stone!"
"Never!" croaked the old woman with the tooth.
"Never!" mumbled the third.
Perseus did all he could to persuade them, but they
were so stubborn that he was only wasting words.
Meanwhile they laid out supper, which they ate in a
very strange way, each taking her turn with the one
 tooth which they had among them, and passing it round
from one to the other, just as they did with their only
eye. This made the meal rather long and slow, for
they ate enormously. After supper they put the eye
and the tooth into a little box while they took a nap,
when Perseus, watching his opportunity, snatched up
the box, put on his helmet, and cried out—
"Now tell me the way to Medusa, or else you shall
never see or eat again!"
The poor old Graiæ went down on their knees, and
implored him to give them back their only tooth and
their only eye. But he said—
"It is my turn to be stubborn. Tell me where to
find Medusa, and you shall have them back; but not a
"I suppose we must, then," said the eldest, with a
sigh. "Well, it won't be our fault now, whatever
happens. And after all, it's better that you should be
turned into stone than that we should be blind and
"Much better," her sisters groaned.
"Very well, then," said the eldest Graia, "you must
go straight on, night and day, until you come into the
country of King Atlas, which is called Mauritania.
Near the king's palace is a garden where the trees bear
golden apples, guarded by a dragon. If the dragon
does not devour you, you must pass the garden gate,
 and go on, a long, long way, till you come to a great
lake where, if you do not find the Gorgons, you will be
a lucky man."
Perseus gave the old women back their tooth and
eye, which they received with joy, and thanking them
for their information, left the hut and traveled on.
After many days and nights, during which he found it
hard to find food, he came into a fertile country wherein
stood a stately palace, so high that it seemed to touch
the clouds. Hard by was a vast garden enclosed by a
high wall, and at the gate, sure enough, sat a monstrous
dragon with glaring eyes. But Perseus, wearing his
invisible helmet, passed by safely, because unseen.
In time he came to the lake, where he took off his
helmet to quench his thirst. While he was drinking,
he was startled by the approach of what sounded like a
mighty rush of wind, and he had but just time to put
on his helmet again before he saw, reflected in the lake,
the flying form of a terrible Medusa—the Gorgon
whom he had vowed to slay, and who, not seeing him,
sat down beside him with folded wings.
Well was it for Perseus that he remembered what
would happen to him if he looked at Medusa. And
yet how in the would was he to fight her without looking
at her? That was a puzzle indeed. Suddenly he
bethought himself of Minerva's shield, which was
polished like a mirror. He turned it towards Medusa,
 and saw, not herself indeed, but her reflection in the
polished shield, which did just as well.
She was indeed a monster—more terrible even than
he had expected. She was of gigantic size, hideous
and cruel in face, with the scales and wings of a dragon,
horrible claws, and hundreds of writhing and hissing
snakes on her head instead of hair. No wonder that
anybody who looked on her was turned at once into
stone. Perseus, wearing his helmet, and guiding himself
by his mirror, from which he never moved his eyes,
drew his diamond blade, sprang upon the monster, gave
one stroke just between her chin and where her scales
began, and, in a single moment, her hideous head was
rolling on the sand. The snakes gave one last hiss,
and the deed was done.
Still keeping his eyes turned away, Perseus, by using
his mirror, found the head, which he slung out of his
sight behind him. Scarcely had he done this when he
heard again the sound of wings, like a great wind—the
sisters of Medusa, the other two Gorgons, were
flying over the lake like hurricanes to take vengeance
upon her slayer. They could not see Perseus himself,
because of his helmet; but they saw their sister's head
at his back, and could thus swoop down upon him.
But Perseus, remembering his winged sandals, sprang
up into the air, and off he flew, with the raging Gorgons
 It was a terrible race! Perseus would not throw
away the head, though it left such a track behind him.
For from one of the splashes of blood which fell upon
the earth sprang the giant Chrysaor, armed with a
golden sword; from another leaped into life the winged
horse Pegasus, who immediately darted off through the
air and never stopped until he alighted among the
Muses upon Mount Helicon; the smaller drops of blood
as they fell became countless serpents, and all manner
of loathsome crawling things. On and on Perseus flew,
not knowing whither, like one hunted in some horrible
dream, till his strength failed him, and he came down
to earth, swiftly and half fainting.
When he opened his eyes and raised himself from
the ground, he found himself in the most beautiful
garden he had ever seen, full of trees laden with fruits
of gold. But before him stood a huge giant, so tall
that his head was above the clouds. The giant stooped
till Perseus could see his face, and said in a voice of
"I am Atlas, King of Mauritania! How has a
miserable pigmy like you passed the dragon who guards
the gate of the garden of golden apples, and entered in?"
"Then from you, as king of this land," said Perseus,
"I claim shelter and protection in my father's name!
For the avengers of blood are following after me to
 "You are safe with me," said Atlas. "But who is
your father, that you claim shelter and protection in
"My name is Perseus," said Perseus, proudly, "and
I am the son of Jupiter, the king of gods and men!"
"Of Jupiter?" thundered Atlas. "Then—prepare
"You would kill a son of Jupiter?" asked Perseus,
"Ay, and any son of Jupiter who comes in my way!
For hath it not been foretold that by a son of Jupiter
shall I be robbed of my golden apples? For what else
are you here? Son of Jupiter, once more, prepare to
die!" And so saying, he lifted his enormous arm, one
blow of which would have swept away ten thousand
men as if they were a swarm of flies.
Perseus gave himself up for lost, for he had no more
chance against Atlas than a beetle would have against
an elephant. However, like a brave knight, he resolved
to die fighting: he drew his sword and grasped his
shield—at least what he meant to be his shield; for it
chanced to be Medusa's head which he brought from
behind his shoulder and held up before the giant.
Down came the huge right arm of Atlas to crush him.
But even in death the head did its work. No sooner
were Medusa's staring eyes turned upon the giant than
all in a moment his limbs stiffened, and he became a
 vast mountain of stone, with its head above the clouds.
And there stands Mount Atlas to this day.
Thankful for his wonderful escape, Perseus, without
taking a single golden apple, continued his journey, no
longer pursued by the Gorgons, who had doubtless lost
trace of him. Leaving Mauritania, he recrossed the
great Libyan desert, and traveled on and on until he
reached the coast of Ethiopia, and entered a great city
on the seashore.
But though the place was evidently great and rich,
the whole air seemed full of sadness and gloom. The
people went about silent and sighing, and altogether so
woe-begone that they had no attention to spare for a
stranger. When he reached the king's palace the signs
of mourning were deeper still: it was like entering a
tomb, all was so plunged in speechless sorrow.
"What is the matter?" asked Perseus at last, seizing
a passing servant by the arm, and compelling him to
listen. "Is it the death of the king?"
"Ah, if it were only that!" said the man. "But
no; King Cepheus is alive and well. Alas, and woe is
me!" And so once more he fell to wailing, and
Thus over and over again Perseus vainly sought an
answer, getting nothing but tears and groans. And so,
none heeding him, he went on till he reached a chamber
 where sat the king himself in the midst of his court;
and here was the deepest mourning of all.
"I perceive you are a stranger," said King Cepheus.
"Pardon us if we have seemed inhospitable and unlike
the Æthiopians, the friends of the gods; it is not our
way. But," he continued, the tears flowing as he
spoke, "if you knew, you would understand."
"Let me know," said Perseus gently, for he was
filled with pity for the king's tears.
"My daughter, the Princess Andrŏmĕda," answered
the king, "is condemned to a horrible death; I know
not whether she is yet alive."
"How," asked Perseus, "can a king's daughter be
condemned to death against her father's will?"
"No wonder it sounds strange," answered Cepheus;
"but listen: Andromeda is my only child. For some
reason—I know not what—the gods have permitted
the land to be ravaged by a monster which came out of
the sea, whose very breath is a blight and a pestilence,
and which spares neither man, woman, nor child. Not
one of us is left without cause to mourn. Fearing the
destruction of all my people, I asked of the great oracle
of Ammon in what way the work of the monster could
be stayed. Alas! the oracle declared that nothing
would avail but delivering up Andromeda herself to its
fury to be devoured. What could I do? Could I
doom all my people to lose all their children for the
 sake of my own? There was but one thing for a king,
who is the father of all his people, to do: and even
now—" But he could say no more.
"Oracle or no oracle," said Perseus, "it shall not
be while I am alive! Where is the princess?"
"She was chained at sunrise to a rock on the seashore,
there to wait for the monster. But where she is now—"
Perseus did not wait for another word, but, leaving
the palace, hurried alone the shore, already half covered
by the rising tide, helping himself over the difficult
places by the wings at his heels. At last he came to
what made his heart beat and burn with pity and rage.
Chained by her wrists to a pillar of rock was the most
beautiful of all princesses, stripped naked, but for the
long hair that fell over her shoulders, and for the rising
waves, which were already nearly waist-high. But
what struck Perseus most was her look of quiet courage
and noble pride—the look of one who was devoting
herself to a cruel death for the country's sake, and in
order that others might be saved.
The whole heart of Perseus went out to her: he
vowed, if he could not save her, to share her doom.
But before he could reach her side, a huge black wave
parted, and forth came the monster—a creature like
nothing else of land or sea, with a bloated, shapeless
body, studded with hungry, cruel eyes, and hundreds
of long, slimy limbs, twisting and crawling, each with
 a yawning mouth, from which streamed livid fire and
horrible fumes. Andromeda turned pale as the loathsome
creature came on with a slowness more dreadful
than speed. Perseus could not wait. Springing from
the rock with his wings, he threw himself, like lightning,
full upon the monster, and then began such a
struggle as had never been seen before. The creature
twined its limbs around Perseus, and tried to crush him.
As soon as Perseus tore himself from one, he was
clutched by another, while the pulpy mass seemed proof
against thrusts or blows.
Perseus felt his life passing from him; he put all the
strength left him into one last blow. It fell only on
the monster's right shoulder. But that was the one
place where it could be pierced. The coils relaxed,
and Perseus, to his own amaze, saw the monster floating,
a shapeless corpse, upon the waves.
Having released Andromeda, who had watched the
struggle in an agony of dread for what had seemed the
certain fate of her champion, he carried her back through
the air to her father's palace; and I need not tell how
the mourning turned into wonder and joy!
"What can I do to show my gratitude?" asked
Cepheus of Perseus. "Ask of me whatever you will,
and it shall be yours, on the word of a king!"
"Give me Andromeda to be my wife," said Perseus.
"That is all I want in the world."
 "Gladly," said Cepheus; but suddenly he became
grave. "I have promised on the word of a king, which
cannot be broken. But I must warn you that you are
not the first in the field. Andromeda has long been
claimed in marriage by the powerful Prince Phineus:
and he is not the man to lose what he wants without
"He never gave any trouble to the monster," said
Perseus, thinking that Cepheus, though kind and
honorable, was rather a weak and timid sort of king.
So the marriage of Perseus and Andromeda was settled,
to the great joy of both; and all the nobles were invited
to a great festival in honor of the wedding, and of the
delivery of the land. The Æthiopians were famous for
their feasts,—so much so that the gods themselves
would often leave the nectar and ambrosia of Olympus
to be guests at their tables.
Everything went on very happily, when in the very
midst of the banquet was heard the clash of arms; and
those who were nearest the door cried out that Prince
Phineus had come with an army to carry off the bride.
"Do not be alarmed," said Perseus. "Only let
everybody shut his eyes until I bid him open them
It seemed an odd order; but Cepheus and all his
Court had such faith in Perseus that they instantly
obeyed him, and all shut their eyes. Perseus, especially
 bidding Andromeda close hers, drew forth Medusa's
head, turning the face towards the door. And when,
at his bidding, Cepheus and the rest opened their eyes
and looked, they saw Phineus and his army all turned
into statues of stone.
After resting from his adventures at the Court of
King Cepheus, Perseus set sail with Andromeda, in
one of the king's ships, for Seriphus, where they arrived
after a safe and pleasant voyage. He was impatient to
see his mother again, and to show King Polydectes how
well he had done his errand. On reaching Seriphus,
he left Andromeda in the ship, while he went alone on
shore to see how things had gone while he had been away.
His way to the palace led him past the temple of
Minerva, at the gate of which he found great confusion.
Forcing his way through the crowd, he entered, and
was astonished to see his mother, Danae, crouching in
terror by the altar, with Dictys the fisherman standing
before her, and defending her from King Polydectes
and his guards, who were crowding the temple. Clearing
his way to the altar-steps, Perseus heard hurriedly
from Dictys what was happening: how the king, taking
advantage of his absence, had been persecuting
Danae to marry him against her will, and had at last
driven her into the temple to make her his wife by
force. Dictys alone had come to her rescue; but what
 could one man do against the king and all his
"And now you have come," sighed Dictys, "you will
be slain too. See, they are coming on!"
"You sent me to slay Medusa, King Polydectes,"
cried Perseus. "See how well I have obeyed you!"
So saying, he held up the fatal head; and the king
and his guards forthwith became stone. Thus was
Polydectes destroyed by his own treachery.
The people desired to make Perseus king; but he
had a longing to pay a visit to the land of Argos, where
he had been born, but which he had never seen. So
he made Dictys the fisherman King of Seriphus, thinking
that kindness, courage, and faithfulness were the
chief things to be looked for in the choice of a ruler,
and set sail for Argos with his wife and mother.
Of course nobody there knew any of them; for
Perseus had left the country when a child in arms, and
Danae had spent her girlhood shut up in a brazen tower.
It so happened that, when they reached land, the
people of Larissa were celebrating some solemn games
in honor of their king, who had just died—wrestling,
racing, and so forth; and Perseus, hearing the news,
went round by way of Larissa to take part in them.
Having shown himself best in every spot, he joined
in a game of quoits, in which, as always, he found
him-  self without a rival. Having outdone all others, he
thought he would outdo even himself; and, taking up
the heaviest quoit, he cast it so far that it passed over
the heads of the circle of spectators, so that none could
see where it fell—
Until they were startled by a cry which made the
people crowd to where an old man had fallen from his
seat, and now lay dead upon the ground. The quoit
had struck him on the head, and—
"Fly!" cried those who stood about Perseus. "It
is Acrisius, King of Argos, whom your unlucky quoit
And thus came to pass what had been foretold at
the beginning—King Acrisius had been slain by his
As for Perseus, whose adventures were now at an
end, he refused the kingdom of Argos, which had come
to him in such an unfortunate manner, and, traveling
further into Greece, built a city and made a kingdom
for himself, which he called Mycenæ. Here, with
Andromeda and Danae, he lived in peace and happiness,
ruling so well and wisely that when he died he
was made a demigod, and admitted into Olympus.
There are two constellations which are still called
Perseus and Andromeda. The Gorgon's head he consecrated
to Minerva, who fixed it in the middle of her
 shield, where it still retained its power of turning the
enemies of the goddess of Wisdom into blocks of stone.
I expect that one part of this story has reminded
you of how St. George of England rescued the Princess
Sabra from the dragon. Well, there is this great likeness
among all good knights, that they have the help
of heaven, because they would be equally good and
brave whether they had such help or no.
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