A Study Of What Constitute A Hero As Depicted In Perseus Story
What makes a Hero?
Being known as a hero is a great honor. You are held in high esteem by people all over the world. You have great fame and sometimes even great fortune. But to become a hero is a challenging path. It requires you to have great strength of character, being honorable and arising to trustworthiness. Sometimes the path can be physically challenging and at times bravery and will are tested. You must be willing to sacrifice whatever is required of you to help another; to go beyond your individual self. You must be ready and prepared to die to save someone else’s life while losing yours.
Now we travel back to an era many centuries past, between 550 and 220 BC, to a modest cottage on a remote Greek island named Seriphos where a small boy and his mother were found in a locked chest floating upon the ocean. Now fast forward about 16 years. This young boy has grown up into a brave and adventurous man who is tenacious and determined to seek glory while at the same time, protecting and showing devotion to his mother. He is named Perseus, the son of Zeus. Perseus is technically considered a hero according to the ways of the gods; he being born of a god and the son of the god of all gods. But will he turn out to be a true hero? I say that this is a no.
The dictionary defines a hero to be someone of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities. Perseus does not fit this definition or description. It is true that he is admired because of the tasks and situations he had to overcome, even though it could be stated that he did nothing but walk by himself. He had a lot of assistance and support along the way throughout his many adventures.
All throughout Perseus’ heroic quest, he has gods holding each of his hands, protecting and aiding him in his journeys. In fact, when Perseus started his escapade, he didn’t even bring a sword or a shield knowing that he would have to eventually have to fight and slay Medusa, the evil, snake-haired Gorgon with very hard scales who with a look that could turn men into stone. Medusa also had her two sisters which are immortal and would eat any man whom they caught in their clutches. All three of them lived on a desolate island that was very difficult to find. Knowing his quest was to find Medusa and slay her, he wandered around Greece searching for someone whom had information about the Gorgon sisters. His travels were in vain and his inquisitions were fruitless.
Perseus was in so much despair after his searching that he was contemplated giving up his pursuit. Unexpectedly, the God Hermes, who was the god of travelers, and the Goddess Athena, who is the goddess of wisdom and strategy, stood before Perseus and offered their help. They were sent there by Zeus to assist him on his quest to eradicate Medusa. They presented him with two gifts, the breastplate of Athena which was used as a reflective surface to gaze at Medusa and an unbreakable sword.
Hermes flew Perseus to the island where three witches lived. The witches had one eye that they shared between themselves. While the witches were in the process of exchanging whom had the possession of the eye, Perseus snatched it from them and threatened to throw the eye off the mountain unless the witches told him where to find Hera’s garden. There in Hera’s garden, Perseus would be able to find even more items to assist him in his mission. The witches told Perseus where the garden was located. After he received the information Perseus threw back the eye towards the witches which confused them, giving Perseus the opportunity to escape and set off towards Hera’s garden.
When Perseus found Hera’s garden, he was welcomed by many different nymphs that gave him three objects; Hades’ helm of invisibility, flying sandals, and a magic wallet that grew and shrunk to fit whatever item it was to hold. The nymphs sent Perseus on his way. He was encouraged and prepared to destroy Medusa. Still Perseus did not know where to find the island where the Gorgons lived. Hermes told Perseus to simply to follow him because Hermes knew where the Gorgons lived.
So Perseus flew to the island of the Gorgons and lucky enough he finds the three Gorgons asleep. Now Perseus has to choose the correct sister to slay. He has a one of three chance of choosing the right Gorgon. If Perseus chooses the wrong Gorgon, his sword will just bounce off and would not harm the Gorgon which would lead to them all waking up and kill Perseus. But, of course, instead of making it somewhat hard for him, Athena and Hermes fly right above Medusa, point down, and whisper to Perseus; this is her. So Perseus flies backward, always looking into the breastplate searching for Medusa’s reflection. Perseus asks Athena to guide his hand to cut off Medusas’ head. Medusa’s sisters woke up and looked around to find Perseus but could not because he was invisible. After Perseus beheads Medusa, he places her head in the magic wallet and flew away using his flying sandals. Perseus returns home to a somewhat warm welcome. Polydectes, who had sent him on the quest to get rid of him, wasn’t very happy with Perseus’ return. So Perseus turned him to stone with Medusa’s head.
Now I ask again, is Perseus really a hero? Well by Greek definition he is. But is he a true hero? Well, let us look over the facts one more time. Perseus is not very skilled physically or mentally. Due to the lack of his abilities, Perseus has to be guided and told how to become successful. He did not have to put thought or reason into his decisions. In fact, it definitely is reasonable to say Perseus did not sacrifice or risk death. In fact the hardest thing he probably has to do was walk. So I ask once more is Perseus a true hero? No, I don’t believe he is at all.
A Study Of Peter Paul Ruben’s Painting’s Perseus And Andromeda
The painting Perseus and Andromeda or better known as Perseus rescues Andromeda was created by Peter Paul Rubens in 1622. This work of art remained in Rubens’s house until his death, and was then obtained by and housed in the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia. This oil painting tells the story of Perseus returning from slaying Medusa to save Andromeda. It depicts Perseus holding the head of Medusa and loosening the chains on Andromeda, while partially showing Pegasus, the goddess of glory and Cetus the Sea Monster, who was slain earlier.
Perseus and Andromeda was created by Rubens during the Flemish Baroque painting period, which lasted from 1608-1700. This painting period originated in Flanders, a Flemish region of Belgium. Flemish painters, whose paintings had Northern and Italian influences, were the basis of this time period, but it was Rubens who blended the two together and became a catalyst for this Flemish age. Oil painting was a largely exported technique in the Flemish Baroque painting period, and was used on many works such as: The Honeysuckle Bower, Prometheus Bound, and Venus and Adonis. Many paintings in this time period were also not limited to displaying various events, but were also given other significance. A good example is Perseus and Andromeda, because it was also given political significance to symbolize abuse and freedom from enemies. The use of oil painting, Northern-Italian influences, and multiple significances make Perseus and Andromeda very typical of its Flemish time period.
In his painting Perseus and Andromeda, Rubens wanted to primarily portray the liberation of Andromeda from the imprisonment of Cetus the sea monster. Pegasus partially appearing in the picture symbolizes the glory of Perseus slaying Medusa and Cetus, as well as freeing Andromeda. I think that this work by Rubens is an important piece of art because it summarizes the whole tale of Perseus and Andromeda through one painting. I also think that Cetus at the feet of Perseus and Medusa’s head in Perseus’s hand represent victory and freedom from the tyrannous rampage of the sea monster and the hideous Gorgon.
Character Essay: Hermes
The god I would like to be is Hermes, the Messenger God, because he is very loyal. This is shown in many cases in his loyalty to Zeus, his father, and will almost do anything for him without second thought. As an adult, Hermes was named the Messenger God because he could run and fly as fast as the wind with his winged hat and sandals. Hermes would always get his tasks done and deliver the messages he was assigned from the gods.
Although Hermes was very loyal he had a downside; he was also the god of thieves. Even as a newborn, his thievery was displayed when he stole the cattle from Apollo. When he was questioned by his father, Zeus, he denied everything. Hermes continued his mischief throughout his life and wouldn’t tell the truth very often. Hermes also wasn’t a very good father because his son, Autolycus, also ended up becoming a thief.
Hermes would set a great example in today’s world because of the good characteristics he possesses. He would inspire people to show great loyalty to their superiors and also motivate dedication in the world. Hermes would be a great addition into today’s world because people would be encouraged to work harder because of him, and the world would start turning into a much better place than ever seen before.