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Monday, July 2, 2018

M³ Perseus, Defender of Greekdom

            I’m probably going to catch some flak for this, but it’s not me, it’s the Ancient Greeks.
            How do we connect Prometheus, Hestia, and Perseus? Well, we already know that fire and the hearth go together. Worship starts with the hearth. But who tends the hearth? Women. Women are the absolute center of the Greek home.

            Again, I am not anti-women. In fact, the ancient Greeks were not anti-women, either. Their practices don’t align with our modern values, true, but women were central to Greek life. Yes, cooking was women’s work, but they were not servants, they were the mistresses of the house. Men didn’t cross women when it came to the home. Woe to the man who disrespects a woman in her house (and there are many myths about this taking place, all of them ending bad for the man; we’ll get to some of those, eventually).
            Where was I? Right. Women and the hearth, the center for Greek life. Without fire and the hearth, there is no worship of other gods. Without women, there is no hearth and home. And this is how we connect Perseus.
            Perseus is a defender of women. He steps in to save his mother from Polydectes, he steps in to save Andromeda from her own parents. Remember that bit I said about poor family values? This is what I’m talking about. Perseus, however, has the right value system. He is not rescuing women so that he can dominate over them; he is trying to restore and preserve a set of family values that has somehow gone astray.
            It even starts before Polydectes. Acrisius, Perseus’s own grandfather, casts his daughter and baby grandson out into the sea. Had he adhered to family values, he wouldn’t have died by Perseus’s discus later on. Polydectes tried to force himself on Danae, and while there are plenty of stories about men forcing themselves on women, none of them end happily for either party. Andromeda’s parents try to sacrifice Andromeda for their blasphemy, then renege on a deal with Perseus, so they can sell her off to someone else.
            Clearly, family values are gone. Yet Perseus is one of the few stories of a Greek hero where the hero gets the girl and lives happily ever after. As I said, he founds a great dynasty. His line and kingdom prosper for generations, in large part because he defends these values. He gives proper deference to the gods through his actions, not just in giving up Medsua’s head to Athena, but by the small actions of caring for his mother and wife.

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