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Myths of Greece and Rome Narrated with Special Reference to Literature and Art

Page: 112

The interrupted marriage feast was now resumed; and when it was over, Perseus took his bride to Seriphus. There, hearing that Polydectes had dared to ill treat his mother because she still refused to accede to his wishes and become his wife, he changed the importunate king into a rock by showing him his Medusa trophy, gave the kingdom to the king’s brother, and, accompanied by wife and mother, returned to his native land. The borrowed helmet, sandals, and shield were all duly restored to their respective owners, and the Medusa head was given to Minerva in token of gratitude for her help. Greatly pleased with this gift, the goddess set it in the center of her terrible Ægis, where it retained all its petrifying power, and served her in many a fight.

Return to Argos.

Arrived at Argos, Perseus discovered that a usurper had claimed his grandfather’s throne. To hurl the unlawful claimant from his exalted seat, and compel him to make full restitution and atonement, was but a trifle for the hero who had conquered Medusa; and Acrisius, now old and weak, was taken from the prison where he languished, and restored to his wonted honors, by the very youth he had been taught to fear.

But the gods’ decree was always sure to be fulfilled sooner or later; and one day, when Perseus was playing quoits, he accidentally killed his grandfather. To remain at Argos, haunted by the memory of this involuntary crime, was too painful for him: so he exchanged his kingdom for another, that of Mycenæ, which he ruled wisely and well. When Perseus died, after a long and glorious reign, the gods, who had always loved him, placed him among the stars, where he can still be seen, with his wife Andromeda, and mother-in-law Cassiopeia.

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CHAPTER XXI.

THESEUS.

When yet but a very young man, Ægeus, King of Athens, journeyed off to Trœzene, where he fell in love with and married a pretty young princess by the name of Æthra. For some reason, which mythologists do not make known, the king was forced to return alone to Athens; but ere he departed he concealed his sword and sandals beneath a stone, bidding his wife remember, that, as soon as the strength of their son Theseus permitted, he must raise the rock, appropriate sword and sandals, and come and join him in Athens, where he should be introduced to the people as his son and heir. These instructions given, Ægeus bade a fond farewell to his wife and infant son, and returned home.

As the years passed by, they brought strength, beauty, and wisdom to Theseus, whose fame began to be published abroad. At last Æthra deemed him strong enough to raise the rock beneath which his father’s trusty weapon lay; and, conducting him to the spot where it was, she told him the whole story, and bade him try his strength.


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