Posted March 29th, 2012 at 10:43 PM by okamido
Perseus Eurymedon, founder of Mykenai
The mythical figure known to us as Perseus, slayer of the Gorgon and conqueror of the Ketus, boasts an unprecedented royal lineage. As the great-grandson of Sparta and Lacadaemon, legendary founders of the famous Polis, the grandson of Acrisius, King of Argos, and the son of the supreme god in the Greek pantheon, Zues, there are not many that could call on the credentials at his disposal.
Thrown into the sea by his grandfather Acrisius, and rescued by the kindly fisherman Dictys, Perseus seems to have the origins of his beginnings augmented, much in the fashion of Moses, Sargon, Oedipus, Romulus and Gilgamesh. Many historians believe that these type of stories (abandoned-baby-returns-as-king) serve to give the hero a proper lineage, one that befits him and his revered status. Does this possibly mean that a man and warrior named Perseus may actually have existed?
A interesting idea as the name Perseus is known to not be endemic of Greece, and some possible translations of it are "sacker of cities", and "destroyer." With deep Indo-European roots, the name most likely arrived from the Black Sea between 3,000-2,000bce and it is quite possible that the man who would be known as the Perseus of myth started out as a soldier or minor chieftan who may have risen to some acclaim amongst his people, settling in or around the area of what would become Mykenai, and giving birth to the now well known myths.
According to some of these myths, Perseus set out on a quest to vanquish the only mortal gorgon, Medusa, and claim her head in order to placate the King of Seriphos, Polydectes, who had wanton desire for Perseus' mother, Danae. Only through the divine aid of the gods, as well as the Graeae and Hespiredes, the witches and nymphs, was Perseus able to complete this task. If however we look at these stories objectively as well as critically, and use them with the current thoughts on the Epic of Gilgamesh, we may in fact come to another conclusion all together.
If as in Gilgamesh, the monsters that Perseus had to face represent destructive forces, it is not unlikely that in truth, they are raiders, pirates, or hostile tribes that must be overcome in order to secure the safety of the people under the protection of either Perseus, or a chieftan that Perseus serves. This in fact could very well mean that a warrior and leader to his people, named Perseus actually trod the earth thousands of years ago. Myth and legend state that the city of Mykenai was founded when Perseus dropped his cap on the ground, or by another story, simply bent over to pick a mushroom. Is it not more logical to assume, that a group of Indo-Europeans migrated and settled there over 3,000 years ago, and amongst them was a brave and strong man, either their leader or protector, who along with other strong men carved out their small piece of the Peloponnese, and gave rise to one of the most significant cities of the Bronze Age?
Katz, D.(1993).Gilgamesh and Akka. Styx Publishing, Broomall, Pa.
Ogden, D.(2008).Perseus. Routledge Publishing, New York.
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