Thursday, August 4, 2011

Perseus ancestor of Homer's characters

Tracing the lineage of Perseus helps clarify how intertwined he is with the Homeric stories. Like the heroes of the epics, he is favored by the gods:
From the Hesperides he received a knapsack (kibisis) to safely contain Medusa's head. Zeus gave him an adamantine sword and Hades' helm of darkness to hide. Hermes lent Perseus winged sandals to fly, while Athena gave him a polished shield. Perseus then proceeded to the Gorgons' cave.
He and Andromeda settled at Tiryns:

Andromeda followed her husband to Tiryns in Argos, and together they became the ancestors of the family of the Perseidae through the line of their son Perses. Perseus and Andromeda had seven sons: Perseides, Perses, Alcaeus, Heleus, Mestor, Sthenelus, and Electryon, and two daughters, Autochthoe and Gorgophone. Their descendants ruled Mycenae from Electryon down to Eurystheus, after whom Atreusattained the kingdom, and would also include the great hero Heracles.

Looking at just one of their children, we find numerous links to key Homeric figures:

In Greek mythology, Gorgophone (Greek: Γοργοφόνη) was a daughter of Perseus and Andromeda. Her name means "Gorgon Slayer", a tribute to her father who killed Medusa, the mortal Gorgon.

Gorgophone is a central figure in the history of Sparta, having been married to two kings, Oebalus of Laconia and Perieres of Messenia, and being considered the first woman to have married twice.. . . One of the sons of Oibalos and Gorgophone was Tyndareus, stepfather of Helen of Troy, Clytemnestra, Castor and Pollux, and another was Icarius, father of Odysseus's wife, Penelope. Thus, Perseus's descendants played a central role in the Homeric epics and the pre-history of Greece.

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