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SymbolMedusa's head
Personal information
ParentsZeus and Danaë
SiblingsAeacus, Angelos, Aphrodite, Apollo, Ares, Artemis, Athena, Dionysus, Eileithyia, Enyo, Eris, Ersa, Hebe, Helen of Troy, Hephaestus, Heracles, Hermes, Minos, Pandia, Persephone, Rhadamanthus, the Graces, the Horae, the Litae, the Muses, the Moirai
ChildrenPerses, Heleus, Alcaeus, Sthenelus of Mycenae, Electryon, Mestor, Cynurus, Gorgophone, Autochthe
Perseus freeing Andromeda after killing Cetus, 1st century AD fresco from the Casa Dei Dioscuri, Pompeii

In Greek mythology, Perseus (/ˈpɜːrsiəs, -sjs/; Greek: Περσεύς, translit. Perseús) is the legendary founder of Mycenae and of the Perseid dynasty. He was, alongside Cadmus and Bellerophon, the greatest Greek hero and slayer of monsters before the days of Heracles.[1] He beheaded the Gorgon Medusa for Polydectes and saved Andromeda from the sea monster Cetus. He was the son of Zeus and the mortal Danaë, as well as the half-brother and great-grandfather of Heracles (as they were both sired by Zeus).


Because of the obscurity of the name "Perseus" and the legendary character of its bearer, most etymologists presume that it might be pre-Greek; however, the name of Perseus's native city was Greek and so were the names of his wife and relatives. There is some idea that it descended into Greek from the Proto-Indo-European language. In that regard Robert Graves has proposed the only Greek derivation available. Perseus might be from the Greek verb πέρθειν (pérthein, "to waste, ravage, sack, destroy") some form of which appears in Homeric epithets. According to Carl Darling Buck (Comparative Grammar of Greek and Latin), the –eus suffix is typically used to form an agent noun, in this case from the aorist stem, pers-. Pers-eus therefore is a "sacker of cities", that is, a soldier by occupation, a fitting name for the first Mycenaean warrior.

The further origin of perth- is more obscure. J. B. Hofmann lists the possible root as *bher-, from which Latin ferio, "strike".[2] This corresponds to Julius Pokorny’s *bher-(3), "scrape, cut." Ordinarily *bh- descends to Greek as ph-. This difficulty can be overcome by presuming a dissimilation from the –th– in pérthein, which the Greeks would have preferred from a putative *phérthein. Graves carries the meaning still further, to the perse- in Persephone, goddess of death. John Chadwick in the second edition of Documents in Mycenaean Greek speculates about the Mycenaean goddess pe-re-*82, attested on the PY Tn 316 tablet (Linear B: