43. Perseus beheads Medusa

Once upon a time, King Polydectes of Seriphos, fell in love with Danae, the mother of Perseus. But Perseus opposed and so to get rid of Perseus, Polydectes sent Perseus to bring the head of the Gorgon Medusa.

The Gorgons were three sisters–Stheno, Euryale, and Medusa. Stheno and Euryale were immortals but Medusa was a mortal. The Gorgons were terrible women, having locks of serpents instead of hair, swine like big tusks, golden wings, and their gaze could turn anyone to stone.

Perseus proceeded to achieve his quest, under the guidance of Hermes and Athena. Hermes gave Perseus an adamantine sickle to behead Medusa. Athena gave Perseus a shiny, mirror-like shield. Then, Athena told him to meet the Graeae and seek out the Nymphs, who had the helmet of invisibility, winged sandals, and a kibisis. The kibisis was a bag to keep the hacked head of Medusa.

Perseus met the Graeae, who were three sisters, born as old women. They had only one eye and one tooth between them, which they shared in turns. The Graeae refused to tell Perseus the way to the Nymphs. Perseus snatched their eye and tooth, compelling the Graeae to reveal the way, after which he returned the same to them. Perseus met the Nymphs, who willingly gave him the helmet of invisibility, the winged sandals, and the kibisis.

On his winged sandals, Perseus flew to the abode of the Gorgons. Athena warned Perseus not to directly look at Medusa, but to look at Medusa’s reflection on his brazen shield. Hence, while looking at Medusa’s reflection, Perseus raised his adamantine sickle, and hacked off her head. Blood gushed forth from Medusa’s neck, from which leapt out the winged horse Pegasus, along with the giant Khrysaor.

Perseus swiftly put the head of Medusa in the kibisis. Stheno and Euryale pursued, but Perseus wore the helmet of invisibility, and flew away on his winged sandals.

Excerpt from the book “Once Upon A Time-II: 150 Greek Mythology Stories” by Rajen Jani

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