Polydectes: The King Who Asked for Medusa’s Head

Polydectes and the head of medusaPolydectes was the king of the island of Seriphos. The island is famous for giving shelter to Danae and her son, Perseus. The story of Polydectes and how he ordered Perseus to fetch Medusa’s head for him is very interesting. 

So let us read ahead about the life of Polydectes and all the drama it has to offer.

Polydectes’s Origin

The origin of King Polydectes is quite controversial. The reason behind this controversy is that various sets of parents are attributed to Polydectes at various places in the poems and Greek mythology. He is famously regarded as the son of Magnes, the son of Zeus and the first king of Magnesia, and a naiad, who was probably a nymph living on the outskirts of Seriphos island. He is also said to be the only son of Peristhenes and Androthoe, both important non-god-like beings.

Among all the origin stories of Polydectes, the most widely accepted is that Polydectes was the son of Poseidon and Cerebia, therefore, he was a demigod with some god-like powers. His character and demeanor before the Perseus debacle were known to be kind. He was a good king of Seriphos who looked after his people.

Polydectes and Perseus

Being the King of the island of Seriphos that was not the source of Polydectes’s popularity. He is most famously remembered because of his grudge against Perseus. The decline of Polydectes began when Perseus and his mother, Danae, came for shelter on the island of Seriphos.

The Story of the Golden Shower

Perseus was the son of Danae, the daughter of Acrisius. Acrisius, the king of Argos, was foretold that the son of his daughter would be the death of him. Because of this prophecy, Acrisius banished his daughter Danae to a closed cave. Danae was locked inside the cave when a shower of gold arrived before her.

The shower of gold was actually Zeus in disguise. Zeus fancied Danae and wanted her for himself but because of Hera and his previous endeavors on Earth, he was hesitant. He impregnated Danae and left. Sometime later Danae gave birth to a baby boy named Perseus. Danae and Perseus lived in the cave for some time until Perseus had grown up.

Acrisius found out about his grandson being born out of wedlock due to Zeus. To save himself from Zeus’ wrath, instead of killing his grandson, Perseus, and his daughter, Danae, he cast them to the sea in a wooden chest. The mother and her son found the shore some days later where they reached the island of Seriphos where Polydectes was.

Polydectes and Danae

Polydectes and his islanders opened their arms to Danae and Perseus. They started living in harmony and peace. Perseus finally saw how real life was until King Polydectes intervened. Polydectes had fallen for Danae and wanted to marry her.

Perseus was against this union as he cared deeply for Danae. After the rejection from Danae and Perseus, Polydectes set out to remove Perseus from his path to true love.

Hence, Polydectes threw a grand feast and asked everyone to bring the King some lavish gifts. Polydectes knew that Perseus could not bring him something expensive as he was not that well off, which would in return be a shame for Perseus among the people.

Perseus reached the feast empty-handed and asked Polydectes about what he wanted. As Polydectes saw this as an opportunity and asked Perseus to bring him to the head of Medusa. Polydectes was positive that Medusa would turn Perseus into stone and then he could marry Danae without any restrictions but fate had other plans for him.

Medusa’s Head

Medusa was one of the three Gorgons in Greek mythology. She was described as a beautiful woman with venomous snakes in place of her hair. The most interesting thing about Medusa was that whoever put his eyes straight on her was turned to stone in a few seconds. So no one dared to look at her ever.

Polydectes knew that Medusa could turn anyone into stone. Which is why he ordered Perseus to bring him her head. Polydectes was actually secretly plotting Perseus’ death. However, Perseus knew better than to fall for his trap.

He miraculously killed Medusa with the help of Zeus. Zeus gave a sword and wrapping cloth to Perseus that he could use in his conquest. Perseus used the element of surprise and took her head off, he carefully bagged it and brought it back to Polydectes. Polydectes was stunned by his bravery and was embarrassed in front of everyone.

Polydectes’s Death

As the origin of Polydectes, his death is also very controversial. There are many stories that describe the last moments of Polydectes’ life. Among which the most famous one is related to Perseus.

According to the mythology, when Perseus came back with the head of Medusa, Polydectes gave up on his love, Danae. He backed off and understood that Perseus is not a force to be reckoned with. But Perseus was not going to back off now that he had pulled the impossible.

Perseus took out the head and turned everyone into stone, including Polydectes and his entire court, and just like that Polydectes stood there in the form of stone.

Conclusion

The reason for his fame in Greek mythology can be attributed to Perseus and his mother, Danae. This article covered the origin, life, and death of Polydectes. Here are the most important points from the article:

  • Polydectes and the head of medusa greek mythologyPolydectes was the son of either Poseidon and Cerebia or Magnes and a Naiad. His origin story is not very prominently known but he is most famously known to be a descendant of Poseidon.
  • The tale of Polydectes and Perseus is one of the most famous tales in Greek mythology. The tale entrails the defeat of Polydectes and his ultimate death at the hands of Perseus. The reason was Perseus’ mother, Danae who became a love interest of Polydectes.
  • Polydectes was turned to stone by Perseus. Perseus used Medusa’s head in all of his future endeavors.

Polydectes fell in love with the wrong woman at the wrong time. His debacle with Perseus turned out to be fatal for him. Nevertheless, his place in Greek mythology is sealed. Here we come to the end of the life and death of Polydectes, the king of Seriphos.

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