|by Charles Kingsley|
|Stories of the heroes of ancient Greece, told in fine poetic prose. Includes accounts of Perseus who slew Medusa the Gorgon, Jason who sought the Golden Fleece, and Theseus who slew the Minotaur. By preserving the Greek spirit in the retelling of these myths, Kingsley gives us plain strength and seriousness, courage, steadfastness, and beauty. Dozens of attractive illustrations by T. H. Robinson enliven the text. Ages 9-12 |
HOW PERSEUS CAME HOME AGAIN
 AND when a year was ended, Perseus hired Phœnicians from
Tyre, and cut down cedars, and built himself a noble galley;
and painted its cheeks with vermilion, and pitched its sides
with pitch; and in it he put Andromeda, and all her dowry of
jewels, and rich shawls, and spices from the East; and great
was the weeping when they rowed away. But the remembrance of
his brave deed was left behind; and Andromeda's rock was
shown at Jopa in Palestine, till more than a thousand years
So Perseus and the Phœnicians rowed to the westward, across
the sea of Crete, till they came to the blue Ægean and the
 pleasant Isles of Hellas, and Seriphos, his ancient home.
Then he left his galley on the beach, and went up as of old;
and he embraced his mother, and Dictys his good foster-father,
and they wept over each other a long while, for it
was seven years and more since they had met.
Then Perseus went out, and up to the hall of Polydectes; and
underneath the goat-skin he bore the Gorgon's head.
And when he came into the hall, Polydectes sat at the table-head,
and all his nobles and landowners on either side, each
according to his rank, feasting on the fish and the goat's-flesh,
and drinking the blood-red wine. The harpers harped,
and the revellers shouted, and the wine-cups rang merrily as
they passed from hand to hand, and great was the noise in the
hall of Polydectes.
Then Perseus stood upon the threshold, and called to the king
by name. But none
 of the guests knew Perseus, for he was
changed by his long journey. He had gone out a boy, and he
was come home a hero; his eye shone like an eagle's, and his
beard was like a lion's beard, and he stood up like a wild
bull in his pride.
But Polydectes the wicked knew him, and hardened his heart
still more; and scornfully he called,—
"Ah, foundling! Have you found it more easy to promise than
"Those whom the Gods help fulfil their promises; and those
who despise them, reap as they have sown. Behold the
Then Perseus drew back the goat-skin, and held aloft the
Pale grew Polydectes and his guests as they looked upon that
dreadful face. They tried to rise up from their seats: but
from their seats they never rose, but stiffened, each man
where he sat, into a ring of cold gray stones.
 Then Perseus turned and left them, and went down to his
galley in the bay; and he gave the kingdom to good Dictys,
and sailed away with his mother and his bride.
And Polydectes and his guests sat still, with the wine-cups
before them on the board; till the rafters crumbled down
above their heads, and the walls behind their backs, and the
table crumbled down between them, and the grass sprung up
about their feet: but Polydectes and his guests sit on the
hill-side, a ring of gray stones until this day.
But Perseus rowed westward toward Argos, and landed, and went
up to the town. And when he came, he found that Acrisius his
grandfather had fled. For Prtus his wicked brother had
made war against him afresh; and had come across the river
from Tiryns, and conquered Argos, and Acrisius had fled to
Larissa, in the country of the wild Pelasgi.
Then Perseus called the Argives together,
 and told them who
he was, and all the noble deeds which he had done. And all
the nobles and the yeomen made him king, for they saw that he
had a royal heart; and they fought with him against Argos,
and took it, and killed Prtus, and made the Cyclopes serve
them, and build them walls round Argos, like the walls which
they had built at Tiryns: and there were great rejoicings in
the vale of Argos, because they had got a king from Father
But Perseus's heart yearned after his grandfather, and he
said, "Surely he is my flesh and blood, and he will love me
now that I am come home with honour: I will go and find him,
and bring him home, and we will reign together in peace."
So Perseus sailed away with his Phœnicians, round Hydrea and
Sunium, past Marathon and the Attic shore, and through
Euripus, and up the long Eubœan sea, till he came to the
town of Larissa, where the wild Pelasgi dwelt.
 And when he came there, all the people were in the fields,
and there was feasting, and all kinds of games; for
Teutamenes their king wished to honour Acrisius, because he
was the king of a mighty land.
So Perseus did not tell his name, but went up to the games
unknown; for he said, "If I carry away the prize in the
games, my grandfather's heart will be softened toward me."
So he threw off his helmet, and his cuirass, and all his
clothes, and stood among the youths of Larissa, while all
wondered at him, and said, "Who is this young stranger, who
stands like a wild bull in his pride? Surely he is one of
the heroes, the sons of the Immortals, from Olympus."
And when the games began, they wondered yet more; for Perseus
was the best man of all, at running, and leaping, and
wrestling and throwing the javelin; and he won four crowns,
and took them, and
 then he said to himself, "There is a fifth
crown yet to be won; I will win that, and lay them all upon
the knees of my grandfather."
And as he spoke, he saw where Acrisius sat, by the side of
Teutamenes the king, with his white beard flowing down upon
his knees, and his royal staff in his hand; and Perseus wept
when he looked at him, for his heart yearned after his kin;
and he said, "Surely he is a kingly old man, yet he need not
be ashamed of his grandson."
Then he took the quoits, and hurled them, five fathoms beyond
all the rest; and the people shouted, "Further yet, brave
stranger! There has never been such a hurler in this land."
Then Perseus put out all his strength, and hurled. But a
gust of wind came from the sea, and carried the quoit aside,
and far beyond all the rest; and it fell on the foot of
Acrisius, and he swooned away with the pain.
 Perseus shrieked, and ran up to him; but when they lifted the
old man up, he was dead, for his life was slow and feeble.
Then Perseus rent his clothes, and cast dust upon his head,
and wept a long while for his grandfather. At last he rose,
and called to all the people aloud, and said,—
"The Gods are true, and what they have ordained must be. I
am Perseus, the grandson of this dead man, the far-famed
slayer of the Gorgon."
Then he told them how the prophecy had declared that he
should kill his grandfather, and all the story of his life.
So they made a great mourning for Acrisius, and burnt him on
a right rich pile; and Perseus went to the temple, and was
purified from the guilt of the death, because he had done it
Then he went home to Argos, and reigned there well with fair
Andromeda; and they had four sons and three daughters, and
died in a good old age.
 And when they died, the ancients say, Athené took them up
into the sky, with Cepheus and Cassiopœia. And there on
starlight nights you may see them shining still; Cepheus with
his kingly crown, and Cassiopoeia in her ivory chair,
plaiting her star-spangled tresses, and Perseus with the
Gorgon's head, and fair Andromeda beside him, spreading her
long white arms across the heaven, as she stood when chained
to the stone for the monster.
All night long, they shine, for a beacon to wandering
sailors; but all day they feast with the Gods, on the still
blue peaks of Olympus.
Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics