Perseus and Atlas
Table of Contents
Perseus is moving further and further away from the island of the Gorgons. He flies across the sky like a cloud driven by a strong wind. He finally reached the country where the titan’s son Iapetus, Prometheus’ brother, the giant Atlas, reigned. Thousands of flocks of fine-wooled sheep and whirling cows and bulls grazed the Atlas fields. Magnificent orchards stretched across his estates, and among the gardens was a tree with golden branches and leaves; and the apples that this tree yielded were also golden. Atlas guarded this tree like the apple of his eye; it was his greatest treasure. The goddess Themis foretold him that one day a son of Zeus would come to him and steal his golden apples. Atlas was afraid of that. He surrounded the orchard where the golden tree grew with a high wall, and placed a dragon in front of the entrance as a guard, spewing flames. Atlas did not allow foreigners into his possessions – he feared that a son of Zeus would penetrate between them. Here that Perseus flew to Atlas with his winged sandals and addressed him with such welcoming words:
“Oh, Atlas, receive me as a guest in your home. I am the son of Zeus, Perseus, who killed the gorgon Medusa. Allow me to rest with you after your great feat. “
When Atlas heard that Perseus was the son of Zeus, he immediately remembered the prophecy of the goddess Themis and therefore replied rudely to Perseus:
“Get out of here! Your lie about some great feat of yours will not help you, nor the lie that you are the son of the Thunderer.”
Atlas already wants to throw the hero out the door. Seeing that he could not fight the mighty giant, Perseus himself hurried out of the house. Anger rages in the heart of Perseus; Atlas angered him by denying him hospitality, and on top of that he called him a liar.
In his anger, Perseus says to the giant:
“All right, Atlas, are you kicking me out? Well, accept at least one gift from me!”
With these words, Perseus quickly pulled Medusa’s head out of the bag and, looking away from it, showed it to Atlas. The giant immediately became a mountain. His chin and hair turned into thick woods, his arms and shoulders into high cliffs, his head into a mountain peak that rose to the sky. Since then, Mount Atlas has maintained the entire firmament with all its constellations.
And Perseus, as soon as the Daylight rose in the sky, moved on.
Perseus Saves Andromeda
After a long journey, Perseus reached the kingdom of Cepheus, which was located in Ethiopia, on the shores of the ocean. There, on a rock by the sea, he saw the beautiful Andromeda, the daughter of King Cepheus, nailed. She had to atone for the guilt of her mother, Cassiopeia. Cassiopeia aroused the wrath of the sea nymphs. Proud of her beauty, she said that she, Queen Cassiopeia, was the most beautiful of them all. The nymphs became angry and asked the god of the seas Poseidon to punish Cepheus and Cassiopeia. At the request of the nymphs, Poseidon sent a monster resembling a giant fish. It often emerged from the depths of the sea and devastated Cepheus’ possessions. Cepheus’ kingdom was filled with weeping and groaning. Finally, he turned to Zeus’ oracle Amun and asked what he must do to get rid of this misfortune. The oracle gave the following answer:
“Let your daughter Andromeda tear her apart by the monster, and then Poseidon’s punishment will end.”
The people, learning the answer of the oracle, forced the king to nail Andromeda to the rock by the sea. Pale with terror, Andromeda stood at the foot of the rock, chained in heavy chains. She stared at the sea with unspeakable fear, waiting for the monster to appear at any moment and tear it apart. Tears dripped from her eyes; horror gripped her only at the thought that she should perish in the prime of her wonderful youth, full of strength, without having tasted the joys of life. It was Perseus who saw her. He would have considered her a wonderful statue of white Paros marble, if the sea wind had not blown her hair and large tears had not flowed from her beautiful eyes. The young heroes watched her with admiration, and a strong love for Andromeda blazed in his heart. Perseus hurried down to her and asked her politely.
“Oh, tell me, beautiful girl, whose country this is, and tell me your name! Tell me why you’re nailed to the rock here!”
Andromeda told whose fault she must suffer. The beautiful girl did not want the hero to think that she was buying her own guilt. Andromeda, still unfinished, told her story, and the abyss of the sea rumbled, and in the midst of the raging waves, the monster appeared. He raised his head high with his mouth wide open. Andromeda screamed in horror. Mad with grief, they ran to the shore of Cepheus and Cassiopeia. They weep bitterly, embracing their daughter. There is no salvation for her!
Then Perseus, the son of Zeus, turned to them:
“You will still have plenty of time to shed tears; there is little time just to save your daughter. I am the son of Zeus, Perseus, who killed the serpent-covered gorgon Medusa. Give me your daughter Andromeda for a wife and I will save her.”
Cepheus and Cassiopeia gladly agreed. They were willing to do anything for their daughter’s savior. Cepheus even promised him his entire kingdom as a dowry, as long as he saved Andromeda. The monster is already close. It quickly approaches the rock, rippling the waves like a ship floating on the sea as if on wings thanks to the swings of the oars by strong young rowers. The monster was already a stone’s throw away when Perseus flew high in the air.
The shadow of the hero fell over the sea and the monster attacked her with rage. Perseus bravely descended from above the monster and plunged his curved sword deep into his back. Feeling the heavy wound, the monster rose high on the waves; it crashes into the sea like a boar surrounded by a pack of rabid barking dogs; now it sinks deep into the water, now it rises again.
The monster flutters furiously on the water with its fish tail and thousands of splashes rise all the way to the tops of the coastal rocks. The sea was covered with foam. Opening his mouth, the monster pounces on Perseus, but he with his winged sandals, fast as a seagull, rises above. And strikes blow after blow. Blood and water gushing from the mouth of the mortally wounded monster. The wings of Perseus’s sandals got wet, barely holding the hero in the air. Danaya’s mighty son hurried to the rock that hung over the sea, grabbed it with his left hand and thrust his sword into the monster’s broad chest three times. The terrible fight is over. Joyful cries come from the shore. Everyone praises the mighty hero. The shackles were removed by the beautiful Andromeda and Perseus, triumphant from victory, took his fiancée to the palace of her father Cepheus.