Perseus, in Greek mythology
Perseus (pûrˈsēəs, –so͝os), in Greek mythology, son of Zeus and Danaë. His grandfather, Acrisius, had been warned by an oracle that his grandson would kill him and therefore put Perseus and his mother in a chest and threw it into the sea. It drifted to Seriphus, where King Polydectes befriended the two. After a time Polydectes fell in love with Danaë but was embarrassed by the presence of her full-grown son. He sent Perseus to fetch the head of the Gorgon Medusa, thinking that Perseus would die in the attempt. The gods, however, loved Perseus. Hermes gave him a curved sword and winged sandals, Athena a mirrorlike shield, and Hades a helmet that made Perseus invisible. Thus armed, Perseus slew Medusa. While fleeing the other Gorgons, Medusa's sisters, Perseus asked Atlas for help. Atlas refused, and Perseus, by means of the Medusa head, promptly turned him into a mountain of stone. On his way home Perseus rescued Andromeda from a sea monster and married her. When he arrived in Seriphus, he killed Polydectes and his followers. He then gave the Medusa head to Athena. He went with his mother and his wife to Argos. There, while competing in a discus contest, Perseus accidentally killed his grandfather. Thus the prophecy was fulfilled. Perseus was the father of Electryon, who was the grandfather of Hercules. The famous figure of Perseus by Benvenuto Cellini stands in the Loggia dei Lanzi in Florence.
Perseus, king of Macedon
c.212–166 B.C., last king of Macedon (179–168 B.C.), son and successor of Philip V. He intrigued against his younger brother, Demetrius, eventually bringing about the latter's execution by Philip V. As king, his involvement in Greek politics excited the fears of Eumenes II of Pergamum
, who, thinking that Pergamum's position was being endangered, went to Rome to provoke war against Perseus by pointing to alignments of Macedon with anti-Roman factions in Greece. The resultant Third Macedonian War (171–168) began with a Macedonian cavalry victory and then dragged on indecisively. Finally Aemilius Paullus
took command of the Roman forces and soundly defeated (168) Perseus at Pydna on the Gulf of Thessaloníki. Perseus died in captivity.
Perseus, in astronomy
in astronomy, northern constellation
lying E of Cassiopeia and N of Taurus. It contains the bright star Mirfak (Alpha Persei) and Algol
(Beta Persei), a visible variable star
of the type known as an eclipsing variable. Perseus contains two star clusters
(NGC 869 and NGC 884) that are visible to the naked eye, as well as an open cluster (M34) that is barely visible. A meteor shower
known as the Perseids appears to radiate from a star in Perseus; this shower can be seen every year for several nights beginning Aug. 10, after midnight. In 1901 a brilliant nova was observed in the constellation. Perseus reaches its highest point in the evening sky in late December.
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Born circa 213 B.C.; died circa 166 B.C. Last king of Macedonia; ruled from 179 to 168 B.C.
Perseus strove to restore the power of Macedonia that had been undermined by the wars of his father, Philip V, with Rome (the first Macedonian War [215-205 B.C.] and the Second Macedonian War [200-197 B.C.]). He organized and led an anti-Roman coalition, forming an alliance with the Illyrian tribes, the Thracians, the Seleucid state, and Rhodes and other Greek islands. He supported democratic groupings everywhere that were hostile to Rome. In the early part of the Third Macedonian War, which began in 171 B.C., Perseus won several victories on land (in Thessaly) and sea (at Euboea), but on June 22-23, 168, in a battle near Pydna in Macedonia, his army was defeated. Perseus was captured and brought to Italy, where he died in confinement.
a hero in ancient Greek mythology, son of Danaë and Zeus. According to the myth, Perseus’ grandfather, King Acrisius of Argos, was told by an oracle that he would die at the hands of his grandson. He ordered that Perseus and Danaë be placed in a chest and cast into the sea. The two were rescued by fishermen and settled on the island of Seriphus. From here, Perseus set out to capture the head of the Gorgon Medusa. On the way back he freed Andromeda, the daughter of King Ceph-eus, from a sea monster and married her. Perseus returned to his homeland and during a discus-throwing contest accidentally killed Acrisius. He then left Argos and became ruler in Tiryns. The founding of the city of Mycenae is attributed to him. According to later myths, Perseus and Andromeda were carried up to the heavens and turned into constellations. The myth of Perseus has been a popular theme in art, as seen in the work of Tintoretto, Titian, Rubens, Rembrandt, and Tiepolo.
REFERENCESWoodward, J. M. Perseus, a Study in Greek Art and Legend. Cambridge, 1937.
Schauenburg, K. Perseus in der Kunst des Altertums. Bonn, 1960.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
ever devoted to wife, Andromeda. [Gk. Myth.: Zimmerman, 200]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.