Today, we continue our week-long celebration of this week’s release of Percy Jackson’s Greek Heroes by Rick Riordan, a companion novel to the Percy Jackson series — which this year is marking 10 years in print! Each day this week, we’re bringing you a little more in-depth information about Greek mythology — and a unique chance to win a Percy Jackson prize pack. (Details on that later in this post, so keep reading!) For now, here’s today’s lesson.
Considered “the first hero,” Perseus is perhaps most well-known for beheading the gorgon Medusa — although he also defeat plenty of other assorted monsters. He’s also the half-human son of a mortal woman and Zeus, and the great-grandfather of Heracles. (Which would be weird, because Heracles is also the son of Zeus, so wouldn’t they also be half-brothers? Anyway. Moving on.)
So what persuaded ol’ Perseus to start his questing? Well, it did all begin with Medusa — whose head he sought as a gift for the guy who was wooing his mother.
(Side note: Medusa was the only mortal Gorgon — and the story goes she was originally a regular human woman who was way too obsessed with her beautiful hair. She got frisky with Poseidon in the Temple of Athena, who didn’t take too kindly to this defiling and punished Medusa by turning her hair into snakes. That also turned men to stone who looked at it.
So Perseus sets off to find Medusa — and Athena, apparently still holding a grudge, gives him all the tricks and tools of the trade to successfully lop off her head … which he does, and which causes the apparent “birth” of Pegasus (the famous winged horse) and a young man named Chrysaor, the apparent kid of Medusa and Poseidon.
Anyway, ol’ Perseus held onto that Medusa head — keeping it in a special sack — and used it periodically to turn people into stone if they pissed him off too much. That includes they guy originally betrothed to Andromeda — who Perseus married after rescuing her from a sea monster. (In classic mythology, this rescue totally happened while Perseus was wearing those famous flying sandals — although some imagery shows him riding Pegasus instead.)
Eventually, Perseus gave up Medusa’s head to Athena, along with all the other goodies she helped him acquire for defeating the Gorgon, and went off on his further adventures.
Who cut off Medusa’s head? Who was raised by a she-bear? Who tamed Pegasus? It takes a demigod to know, and Percy Jackson can fill you in on the all the daring deeds of Perseus, Atalanta, Bellerophon, and the rest of the major Greek heroes. Told in the funny, irreverent style readers have come to expect from Percy, ( I’ve had some bad experiences in my time, but the heroes I’m going to tell you about were the original old school hard luck cases. They boldly screwed up where no one had screwed up before. . .) and enhanced with vibrant artwork by Caldecott Honoree John Rocco, this story collection will become the new must-have classic for Rick Riordan’s legions of devoted fans–and for anyone who needs a hero. So get your flaming spear. Put on your lion skin cape. Polish your shield and make sure you’ve got arrows in your quiver. We’re going back about four thousand years to decapitate monsters, save some kingdoms, shoot a few gods in the butt, raid the Underworld, and steal loot from evil people. Then, for dessert, we’ll die painful tragic deaths. Ready? Sweet. Let’s do this.
Win a Percy Prize Pack
Tell us your favorite Greek hero in the comments below, for your chance to win a copy of Greek Heroes, plus a Percy Jackson backpack. Tune in every day this week for more chances to win!
Earn more entries by entering the Day 5 Code Word: WINGS
Once you’ve commented below, head to the Rafflecopter form HERE to make it official.
Prizing & samples provided by Disney Hyperion.
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