MEN TURNED TO STONE
HE king of Argos was angry and afraid. An oracle had told
him that he should die by the hand of his daughter's
child. He shut up his daughter and her little boy in a
box, and pushed them off to sea.
They floated to an island, Seriphos, where a fisherman
found them and took them to his home.
After a while, Polydectes, the king of the island,
wanted to get rid of the boy, Perseus, that he might
marry Danae, the mother. He sent the lad, who was then
well grown, to find and bring back the head of Medusa.
She was the Gorgon, one of three sisters who had teeth
like those of swine, brass claws, wings like those of
eagles, and hair which was hissing snakes. The others
were ugly enough, but Medusa was so frightful that any
living thing that looked on her was turned into stone.
Perseus was to cut off her head and take it home to the
He could never have done that if Athene and Hermes had
not helped him. The goddess lent her bright shield,
and he borrowed from Hermes his winged shoes and
He flew far and farther until he came to the land where
Medusa and her sisters lay asleep. Using the bright
shield as a mirror, so that he did not look at Medusa
 but at her image, he flew down, and with one sudden
stroke cut off her head. He put it into his wallet and
rose from the ground just as the other sisters wakened.
They flew after him for a long time, but could not
catch one who wore the winged shoes of Hermes.
After several days of flying Perseus reached the
country of the Æthiopians. Here he found sorrow
and weeping. The queen of that land has boasted that
she was more beautiful than the sea nymphs. To punish
her they sent a monster of the sea to swim up and down
the Æthiopian coast. It sunk the ships and ate
the crews. Nobody could go fishing, or sailing, or
bathing, because of this monster.
The king and queen went to the oracle, which said
"Chain your daughter Andromeda to a rock in the sea,
and let the monster have her. It will then go away,
and your country will be free."
At the moment when Perseus arrived she was chained to
the rock and waiting to be eaten by the monster. The
young hero flew down near her and said, "O, maiden, why
do you weep, and why are you thus chained at the edge
of the sea?"
She told him, and the crowds that lined the shore wept
while she spoke. Her father and mother were there, and
above all others their cries were heard.
Perseus said, "I will try to save her from the
The sea serpent came swimming, making a loud noise, and
with its head high above the waves. Perseus flew up in
the air, came down on the monster's back, and struck a
blow with the crooked sword. When the dragon
 darted head or claws at him, he flew up out of reach,
then, coming down suddenly, struck again and again.
The monster lost its strength, and sank slowly under
the water. The people waited and watched, but it did
not rise again.
Andromeda was unbound, and the king and queen with
Perseus and all the people went, filled with joy, to
While they were feasting a number of number of young
men burst in. One of them said, "I have come to claim
The king said, "Why did you not rescue her when she was
in danger? I shall give her to the stranger who saved
A fight began which was settled by Perseus. "Let every
friend of mine turn away his eyes and not look at me!"
he cried. He drew out the Gorgon's head and held it
up. Every one of the attacking party looked at it, and
all were turned to stone.
Perseus took his young wife to Seriphos, the island
where lived the king who had sent him on his search for
the head of Medusa. He went into the royal dining
hall. The king laughed at him and asked, "Did you
bring the Gorgon's head?" The company that that a very
good joke, and laughed heartily.
The king had been very cruel to the mother of Perseus.
The young man was angry for that reason, and when the
company mocked at him he opened his wallet and took out
the dreadful head. "Look," he said. They turned
toward him, and were changed into stone.
Perseus journeyed through a country where the young
 men were holding games. His grandfather, Acrisius,
whom Perseus did not know, was looking on. Perseus
joined the game and threw a quoit. It went far, and
fell heavily on the foot of the old man. He fainted
with pain and was carried from the field. In a short
time he died. So the oracle was fulfilled, and he died
by the hand of his daughter's son.
Perseus was very sorry, but he was entirely innocent,
and that was a comfort. He gave the Gorgon's head to
Athene, who set it in the middle of her shining shield.
The sword and shoes were given back to Hermes. Perseus
did not fly abroad any more, but stayed at home with