Perseus' mother, Danaë, was locked away in a tower by her father, Acrisius, king of Argos. As he had not sired a son, Acrisius went to consult the Oracle of Delphi on the matter and the oracle told him that his daughter would give birth to a son who would one day kill him. Unwilling to take the risk that she might become pregnant, Acrisius locked his daughter away in a tower with no doors, and only one small window; Zeus saw the lovely girl, however, fell in love with her, and after turning himself into a shower of gold, slipped through the window and lay with her. Zeus turned the prison into a lovely meadow filled with sun and, seeing light shining through the window, Acrisius demanded that a wall be torn down so he could check on his daughter.
When the wall came down Danaë could be seen holding a baby boy. Afraid of angering Zeus, Acrisius put the mother and child in a chest and shoved them into the ocean, letting the sea do the killing instead, but Zeus protected them along the way. They washed up on the shore of the island of Seriphos, where they were found by a fisherman named Dicktys, who took them into his home. Perseus grew up quite happily until one day Dicktys' brother, Polydectes, the king of Seriphos, decided he wanted to marry Danaë.
Danaë was not interested in marrying Polydectes, however, and while the king continued with his advances, Perseus would usually appear to defend his mother. Realizing that he could not get around Perseus, Polydectes devised a plan that would rid him of Perseus and leave him free to marry Danaë. He announced that he was going to marry Hippodameia, daughter of Oenomaus, king of Pissa, and stated that everyone on the island had to give him a gift.
Perseus, however, could not afford a gift and when he arrived to the wedding empty-handed, Polydectes rebuked him; this angered Perseus and he boadly proclaimed that he would bring the king anything else he wanted and Polydectes then demanded that Perseus bring him the head of the Gorgon Medusa.
The son of Zeus was woefully unprepared for the task at hand, and considered abandoning the quest until Hermes and Athena appeared before him. The two gods advised Perseus to seek out the Gray Sisters, as they would be able to tell him were Medusa was located. The three beings each shared one tooth and one eye between them and so Perseus snatched the eye, promising to return it only if they told him of Medusa's whereabouts. They did and having discovered her location, Perseus set out to face the dreaded creature, though not before the two deities gave him some additional help — Hermes loaned Perseus his sword and his winged sandals, and Athena gave the demigod a bronze shield, its surface having been polished so that he might use it to avoid Medusa's gaze. Other items included a replica of Hades' Helm of Darkness, which rendered whoever wore it invisible, and a bag which he could safely store Medusa's head in.
Now that he was properly armed, Perseus made his way to Medusa's island, which lay at the westernmost edge of the world. There he found the monster asleep in her cave and, using the polished surface of his shield to observe her reflection, he swiftly cut off Medusa's head, stuffing it into his bag; from the blood that poured out from the wound, two creatures, Pegasus and Chrysaor, sprang forth. Medusa's sisters, Stheno and Euryale, were alerted by the noise and gave chase, but the hero escaped them, the helmet that he was wearing having rendered him invisible.
On his way back to Seriphos, Perseus soared over the kingdom of Aethiopia, where he spotted a girl chained to a rock by the shore. Curious, Perseus flew down and asked the girl her name and why she had been chained; her name, she said, was Andromeda, and her mother, Queen Cassiopeia, had boasted that Andromeda was more beautiful than the Nereids, which incited the wrath of Poseidon, who sent a sea monster to ravage their kingdom as punishment. In order to free the kingdom of this plight, Andromeda was chained to a rock by the shore so that she might be offered as a sacrifice to the monster in order to appease Poseidon. Perseus vowed to slay the sea monster, however, and did just that, after which he freed Andromeda. He then approached her parents, the king and queen, and asked that he be given Andromeda's hand in marriage.
Andromeda's parents allowed Perseus to marry her, though this would soon lead to trouble, however, as she had previously been promised to a man named Phineus. When the time came for the two of them to be wed, the aforementioned Phineus arrived with an army, his intent being to kill Perseus and seize Andromeda. The son of Zeus quickly retaliated, using Medusa's head to turn Phineus and his men into stone.
After spending sometime in Aethiopia, Perseus made his way back to Seriphos only to discover that in his absence, Polydectes had seized his mother and forced her into marriage. Furious, Perseus made his way to the palace, where he made short work of Polydektes, using the Gorgon's head to turn the wicked king into stone. With Polydectes dead and his mother safe, Perseus made Dictys the king of the island and he returned the items that Hermes and Athena had given him. He gave Medusa’s head to Athena, who fixed its image onto the center of her shield, the Aegis.
Perseus, Danaë and Andromeda then traveled to Argos, only to find that Acrisius had fled; with Perseus being Acrisius' only male descendant, he ascended to the throne. A few years later Perseus ventured to the city of Larissa to compete in some athletic games. When he threw his discus, a gust of wind threw it off course and caused it to hit someone in the crowd, killing them. That someone was Acrisius, Perseus' grandfather.
Perseus then returned to Argos, but after what had happened he no longer wished to keep the throne, and so he gave it to Megapenthes, son of Acrisius' twin brother, Proetus. Perseus later founded a new city, Mycenae, ruling there as king for many years, and with Andromeda he fathered five sons, Electryon, Sthenelus, Alcaeus, Mestor and Heleus, and a daughter, Gorgophone. After Perseus and Andromeda died, their souls achieved Elysium and the two of them were placed into the sky as constellations.
- ADHD: Being a demigod, Perseus gains inborn supernatural battle reflexes.
- Fighting Skills: As seen in Percy Jackson's Greek Heroes, Perseus was an extremely skilled swordsman, as he was able to slaughter all of Phineus' men with ease. By the time he was seven, he could wrestle a grown man to the floor. By the time he was ten, he could shoot an arrow across the length of the island and wield a sword better than any soldier in the king's army. By the time he was seventeen, Perseus was already the strongest and best fighter of Seriphos
- Aerokinesis: As a son of Zeus, Perseus presumably had control of the air.
- Elecktrokinesis: As a son of Zeus, Perseus presumably had control over electricity, though he has never been shown using this ability.
Perseus had long blonde hair, tied in a ponytail, a handsome face, and an athletic build.
The name Perseus is translated as “the destroyer,” being derived from the Greek verb πέρθειν (perthein), meaning “to waste, ravage, destroy”.
- The Greek poet Herodotus incorrectly thought Perseus to be the ancestor of the Persians (Iranians).
- Before Hercules, Perseus was said to be one of the three greatest Greek heroes of all time, the other two were Bellerophon and Cadmus.
- Perseus is the half-brother of Hercules as well as his great-grandfather.
- Percy Jackson has a lot in common with Perseus.
- Sally Jackson named her son, Percy, after him because he was one of the only heroes in the myths to have a happy ending.
- Percy Jackson beheaded Medusa like his namesake Perseus.
- In the myth, Perseus threatened the Gray Sisters by taking away their eye in exchange for information. Percy did the same in The Sea of Monsters.
- According to Chrysaor, Perseus was arrogant.
- The constellation, Perseus, is named after him.
- His wife Andromeda also has a galaxy named after her.