Perseus, as I have said before kind of gets a bad rap. As the gadget guy of the Ancient world, he sometimes doesn’t get respect. Also, there was that whole opportunistic purchasing of Andromeda thing. But! we have sorted that out and now realize the importance of Perseus’s actions regarding marrying Andromeda.
But we have to now consider Perseus’s place in the overarching narrative of Greek mythology. I’m not talking about the foundation of his dynasty. That’s important, but ultimately predictable that other heroes would rise from his bloodline. No, we need to talk about women.
Perseus is a defender of women. No, don’t go chivalric on me. That’s not what this is about. While it may be a modern, romantic gesture, that’s not how it was seen in the ancient world. Both Perseus’s mother and Andromeda, and all women, are the symbol for the Greek household and the pastoral ideal.
Before people jump down my throat about how the Greeks oppressed women by making them stay in the home, give me a chance.
Okay, so, the Greeks didn’t view it that way. To them, the home was a sacred space. It was not an obligation for women to tend the home, it was a right, a higher duty than what even men did. The house was central to Greek life. More specifically, the hearth was where it was at. Yeah, we’re bringing it back to fire and Prometheus, but only partly in the way you think.
Fire. It destroys, but is also the root of civilization. Without it, there’s no light, warmth, cooking, or crafts. It must be respected, but gives far more than it takes. And the hearth, what we think of as just a fireplace, is the heart of Greek life. Not only for the reasons listed above, but for something far more important: worship.
Enter the most important goddess you have never heard of: Hestia.