Perseus


Perseus
/perr"see euhs, -syoohs/, n., gen. Persei /-see uy'/ for 3.
1. Class. Myth. a hero, the son of Zeus and Danaë, who slew the Gorgon Medusa, and afterward saved Andromeda from a sea monster.
2. Astron. a northern constellation between Cassiopeia and Taurus, containing the variable star Algol.

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I
In Greek mythology, the slayer of the Gorgon Medusa.

He was the son of Zeus and Danaë . His grandfather had him thrown into the sea in a chest with his mother as an infant because of a prophecy that Perseus would kill him. Perseus and his mother survived, and as a young man Perseus set out to gain the head of Medusa. On his way home he rescued the Ethiopian princess Andromeda from a sea monster, and she became his wife. When he took his mother back to her native Argos, he threw a discus that accidentally killed his grandfather, thus fulfilling the prophecy.

Perseus, bronze sculpture by Benvenuto Cellini, 1545–54; in the ...

Alinari/Art Resource, New York
II
born с 212
died с 165 BC, Alba Fucens, near Rome

Last king of Macedonia (r. 179–168).

Son of Philip V, he fought against Rome (199) and Aetolia (189). He persuaded the king to execute his brother Demetrius. As king he extended his influence in neighbouring states and tried to gain the trust of the Greek world, but he alarmed Greece by visiting Delphi with an army. Eumenes II of Pergamum informed Rome of Perseus's allegedly aggressive designs, provoking the Third Macedonian War (171–168). The struggle ended in a final defeat of the Macedonians by the Romans, ending the monarchy, and Perseus spent the rest of his life in captivity.

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 in Greek mythology, the slayer of the Gorgon Medusa and the rescuer of Andromeda from a sea monster. Perseus was the son of Zeus and Danaë, the daughter of Acrisius of Argos. As an infant he was cast into the sea in a chest with his mother by Acrisius, to whom it had been prophesied that he would be killed by his grandson. After Perseus had grown up on the island of Seriphus, where the chest had grounded, King Polydectes of Seriphus, who desired Danaë, tricked Perseus into promising to obtain the head of Medusa, the only mortal among the Gorgons.

 Aided by Hermes and Athena, Perseus pressed the Graiae, sisters of the Gorgons, into helping him by seizing the one eye and one tooth that the sisters shared and not returning them until they provided him with winged sandals (which enabled him to fly), the cap of Hades (which conferred invisibility), a curved sword, or sickle, to decapitate Medusa, and a bag in which to conceal the head. (According to another version, the Graiae merely directed him to the Stygian Nymphs, who told him where to find the Gorgons and gave him the bag, sandals, and helmet; Hermes gave him the sword.) Because the gaze of Medusa turned all who looked at her to stone, Perseus guided himself by her reflection in a shield given him by Athena and beheaded Medusa as she slept. He then returned to Seriphus and rescued his mother by turning Polydectes and his supporters to stone at the sight of Medusa's head.

      A further deed attributed to Perseus was his rescue of the Ethiopian princess Andromeda when he was on his way home with Medusa's head. Andromeda's mother, Cassiopeia, had claimed to be more beautiful than the sea nymphs, or Nereids; so Poseidon had punished Ethiopia by flooding it and plaguing it with a sea monster. An oracle informed Andromeda's father, King Cepheus, that the ills would cease if he exposed Andromeda to the monster, which he did. Perseus, passing by, saw the princess and fell in love with her. He turned the sea monster to stone by showing it Medusa's head and afterward married Andromeda.

      Later Perseus gave the Gorgon's head to Athena, who placed it on her shield, and gave his other accoutrements to Hermes. He accompanied his mother back to her native Argos, where he accidentally struck her father, Acrisius, dead when throwing the discus, thus fulfilling the prophecy that he would kill his grandfather. He consequently left Argos and founded Mycenae as his capital, becoming the ancestor of the Perseids, including Heracles. The Perseus legend was a favourite subject in painting and sculpture, both ancient and Renaissance. (Benvenuto Cellini's bronze statue in Florence of Perseus with Medusa's head is especially famous.) The chief characters in the Perseus legend, Perseus, Cepheus, Cassiopeia, Andromeda, and the sea monster (Cetus), all figure in the night sky as constellations.

▪ king of Macedonia
born c. 213/212 BC
died c. 165, Alba Fucens, near Rome [Italy]

      the last king of Macedonia (179–168), whose attempts to dominate Greece brought on the final defeat of Macedonia by the Romans, leading to annexation of the region.

      The elder son of King Philip V of Macedonia, Perseus commanded troops in his father's wars against Rome (199) and Aetolia (189). After three years of intriguing against his brother Demetrius, accusing him of coveting the succession, Perseus in 180 persuaded the king to have Demetrius executed. On succeeding to the throne in 179, he extended his influence in Thrace and Illyria but made special efforts to win over the Greek world. To this end he resumed control of the Delphic Amphictyony, established excellent relations with Rhodes, and encouraged revolution in Aetolia and Thessaly. After subduing a revolt in Dolopia, he aroused widespread alarm in Greece by visiting Delphi with his army. In 172 Eumenes II of Pergamum incited Rome against Perseus's allegedly aggressive designs, thus precipitating the Third Macedonian War (Macedonian Wars) (171–168). Perseus held off the Romans for three years but in 168 lost the support of Genthius of Illyria, thus exposing his western flank. A Roman army forced him to fight at Pydna (Pydna, Battle of) (in southern Macedonia), where he was defeated by Lucius Aemilius Paullus. After marching as a captive in Aemilius Paullus's triumph (167), Perseus spent the brief remainder of his life in captivity. Perseus's failure revealed his inability to reconcile the needs of Macedonia with the reality of Roman predominance.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Perseus — son of Zeus and Danaë, slayer of Medusa, from Gk. Perseus, of unknown origin …   Etymology dictionary

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  • Perseus — Per se*us, n. [L., from Gr. ?.] 1. (Class. Myth.) A Grecian legendary hero, son of Jupiter and Dana[ e], who slew the Gorgon Medusa. [1913 Webster] 2. (Astron.) A consellation of the northern hemisphere, near Taurus and Cassiopea. It contains a… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Perseus [1] — Perseus, großes Sternbild am nördlichen Himmel, mitten in der Milchstraße (vgl. Textbeilage zu Artikel und Karte »Fixsterne«), enthält den Stern 2. Größe Algenib (α), mehrere veränderliche Sterne, wie den Algol (β; s. d.) und viele Sternhaufen,… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

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