[The AMAIC considers the Middle East – West comparisons of John R. Salverda as interesting, with some of them we think being very likely. But we do not necessarily agree with all of the following]
The Youth of Perseus
John R. Salverda
The Anakim (the Greek Inachids) were flushed out of Hebron by Caleb in the days of Joshua and fled to Argolis in Greece. These worshipped the “Queen of Heaven,” Hera (Ashtoreth) and his champion (Argos) against the monstrous Echidna. Not long after that, in the days of Deborah and Barak, the Danites, having had a falling out with the sons of Jacob, quit their homeland and joined the Anakim in Greece. (These were the Danaans fleeing from the sons of Aegyptus.) They brought the story of Moses and the Exodus with them to Greece as the story of Io, with Moses therein referred to as Hermes Argiophontes. A later version of the story was brought over by later waves of Danites who came to Argos from the city of Joppa over an extended period of time starting about six years after the death of Solomon. To these Danites, whom we can call the “Perseids,” Moses was not deified as the god Hermes, (a telling adjustment in theology) but was merely a hero called Perseus, a human son of the chief god. The story of Perseus is the story of Moses and the law giving, as told by these and subsequent waves of Danite emigrants from Palestine. (Those mythographers who told more recent “Perseus” version of the Exodus must have known that the already extant “Hermes Argiophontes” version was the same story, for the god Hermes was liberally written into the story of Perseus. “Perseus ‘ received from Mercury [Hermes], who is thought to have loved him, talaria and petasos, and, in addition, a helmet which kept its wearer from being seen by an enemy. [Hyginus Astronomica 2.12])
The myths of Perseus meeting the Graeae, and that of Perseus verses the Gorgons, as well as Perseus killing the sea serpent, are most likely two or three separate versions of the Moses story that were brought to Greece over a prolonged period of time, about three or four generations, and were forged into episodes of the same tale. These various episodes display the influence from at least three distinct groups of people. The rendition of it that contains the “Graeae,” reveals a more Arabian, and Egyptian, flavor that can be traced to its Idumean, and Hagarite, origins. The “Gorgon” interpretation of the Perseus story, shows a strong post-Solomonic, Israelite bias. The episode where Perseus kills a “sea serpent” at Joppa is even later still and leans heavily upon a Midianite/Ethiopian and Danite/Philistine faction, for its point of view.
These Danaans, (the Greeks of Argolis) themselves claimed to have come up out of the land of Egypt. Herodotus has something interesting to tell us in this regard, he says that while the Greeks considered the Danaan royalty to be Egyptians, the Persians, who also claim to be descendants of Perseus, argue that Perseus was not an Egyptian at all but was an Assyrian. Ovid, on the other hand, says that the Danaans were of the Cadmean (Phoenician) race and he even refers to Perseus at least once as “Agenorides,” a descendant of Agenor, the father of Cadmus, Europa and Phoenix. Herodotus even mentions the name of the Egyptian city from which came these Danaans, he calls it Chemmis and says, “The Egyptians are averse to adopt Greek customs, or, in a word, those of any other nation. This feeling is almost universal among them. At Chemmis, however, which is a large city in the Thebaic canton, near Neapolis, there is a square enclosure sacred to Perseus, son of Danae. … Inside this precinct is a temple, and in the temple an image of Perseus. … I made inquiries of the Chemmites why it was that Perseus appeared to them and not elsewhere in Egypt, … to which they answered, “that Perseus belonged to their city by birth. Danaus and Lynceus were Chemmites before they set sail for Greece, and from them Perseus was descended,” they said, tracing the genealogy; “and he, … paid them a visit, and acknowledged them for his kinsmen he had heard the name of their city from his mother ‘”. (Herodotus Book 2 Page 91)
The Danaans then, were a group whom the Greeks thought of, at first, as coming up out of the land of Egypt, but about seven generations later these same Danaans were coming out of Joppa in Phoenicia. This is just what we would expect of the Biblical Danites who did come up out of Egypt to live in the seaport of Joppa.
Having explained a bit about the people who told the story of Perseus, we shall begin to cover the individual motifs of the story itself. First of all there is the virgin birth; If Perseus is Moses, then Why isn’t Moses born of a virgin like Perseus? Well he is, because Israel is the Virgin. In the book of Deuteronomy chapter 18 verses 15 through 18, God promises to Moses that He will raise up a special prophet who will be born to the nation of Israel like he was.
It is not unusual for a nation, a city, a church, or a population, to be figuratively symbolized as a female character. Even modern nations, (without, presumably, resorting to idolatry), have similar traditions. The U.S.A. has its “Columbia,” the U.K. has “Britannia,” and Rome had its “Roma,” all feminine personifications that are symbolic of each their own national spirit. The nation of Israel was also referred to as a “woman,” and the “maiden,” and the “virgin,” she was known as Zion (or Jerusalem) and called the “bride,” or “wife,” of God. The slaying of Medusa is portrayed as a prerequisite to freedom for the captive mother of Perseus, “Danae.” Danae was the earthly wife of Zeus, and she was being held captive by an earthly king, there can be no mistake in identifying her with Zion, the nation that gave birth to Moses. It is evident that while in Egypt, the Israelites pronounced the name “Zion,” as “Zoan,” it was the name of the City-state of their captivity, “the field of Zoan.” The classical Greeks knew of this place and called it “Tanis,” they identified the goddess, who was named after this place, with “Athena.” In the Assyrian cuneiform inscriptions, the same Egyptian district was called, “Sinu.” A clever philologist can find this far famed woman’s name throughout ancient literature, besides those already mentioned, here is a partial list of the name Zion transliterated; Diana, Dione, Deino, Dion, Dinah, Sinai, Hesione, Thyone, (even backwards) Anath, Neith, and Nut.
Robert Graves, in book 1 of his two volume work, “the Greek myths,” (60.1,3) says that the Greek Danae was called, by the Hebrews, Dinah. Perhaps by way of explanation he previously intimates, that the Danaans who told her story, were part of a group of early arriving Helladic colonists from Palestine. In the Scriptures Dinah is the virgin daughter of Israel. Some did not believe that Perseus was the son of Zeus, neither did they accept the notion of his virgin birth, but instead they impugn his birth by insisting that he was the product of an incestuous relationship between Danae and her uncle Proetus. Perhaps this version of the birth owed some of its origin to the Scriptural one, it is similar to the parentage of Moses because he also was said to have been the product of an incestuous relationship. The father of Moses, a man named Amram had taken his aunt Jochabed to be his wife (Amram was thus not only the father of Moses but his uncle as well,) and Moses was their issue. According to the Greek myths, Acrisius, who has previously been identified with the Hebrew patriarch Israel, was the father of Danae, the mother of Perseus, while the Scriptural Israel was the father of Dinah, he was also grandfather (via Levi, whom the Greeks appear not to know about) of Jochabed, the Biblical mother of Moses.
Like the “seed of the woman,” the birth of Perseus was predicted before hand, and the king sought to prevent his birth, but like Pharaoh, and Herod, his attempt was to no avail. Should anyone claim to be the “son of God,” the Law would be in place to put him to death, thus, upon the birth of Perseus, the king proclaimed that he must die, the instrument of his attempted death, (and, incidentally, his salvation) was an ark, and the Ark, symbolizes the Law. There was a pre-birth royal decree in place to prevent the arrival Moses as well, and at his birth he was placed in an ark, (even Sargon the Great of Akkad, and Osiris, the Egyptian god, had an attempt made upon their lives in an ark). The identification of Perseus with Moses, goes way beyond their both being placed in an ark and set adrift on the water, but it includes an entire series of shared motifs; Both had their arks discovered by a relative of the king, both were raised at the court of the king, and each had a happy childhood until the king had a change of heart.
An objection might be made that the mother of Moses was not in the ark like the mother of Perseus was. Yes, but it is also known that one of the first things that those who found the baby Moses did, was to send for a Hebrew woman to serve as a nurse for the child, who turned out to be none other than the actual mother of Moses, Jochabed. Therefore, as it was in the story of Perseus so it was in the story of Moses, the mother in each case was with the child from his very infancy throughout his life in the court of the King/Pharaoh, however, also in each case, she was there as a servant only.
While most Mythographers agree that Perseus was raised at the royal court they usually refer to the situation of his mother, the virgin Danae, as being held captive against her will. As if to reinforce my theory that Danae was Zion, there is one very important ancient source, no less than the great Greek poet Pindar, who wrote about 480 BC in his Pythian Ode (12 Str1-3) who plainly refers to Danae as being held in slavery! The quote from Pindar runs thus; “Perseus … had made blind the grim offspring of Phorcys (Medusa), ‘ thus to end his mother’s long slavery…”. What the nature of the slavery that Danae was forced into we are not told, but it is apparent that Pindar knew of the tradition so saying that Perseus had freed his mother from “slavery” by his act.
Perseus wanted to take Danae and leave, just as Moses wanted to take Zion and leave, but the king would not let her go. However Perseus did go somewhere, for he first, like Moses, had to perform a task in the wilderness, which would give him the divine authority which he would need to acquire freedom for Danae. This is the point in the combined rendition of the account, that has come down to us, where the mythographer has inserted the Hagarite version of the story, that features the Graeae, it is also the point in the Scriptural story where Moses has his first meeting with God at Mount Sinai.
The Hebrew story has Moses taking a pre Exodus wilderness adventure to Mount Sinai, where he lives among the Midianites for quite some time. The Scriptures make this adventure to be a prerequisite to the main adventure of Moses, for there he learns to worship the one God of Abraham at His holy mountain, He there tells Moses, not only His name, but also gives him instructions and three “magic” tricks that he can use to deliver Zion from her slavery (Ex. 4:1-9).
Perseus also had “divine” training sessions prior to his actual adventure. The gods, Athena (delivered from the head of Zeus), and Hermes (the messenger of Zeus and deliverer of Io), each had experience to lend this new deliverer Perseus. What has Athena to do with the Exodus’ Athena (Parthenos) was a female personification of the city state of Athens, in the same way that (the Virgin) Zion was a female personification of Jerusalem. In truth, the “myth” about the founding of Athens is clearly derived from the history of the Jews. Cecrops the anguipede (serpent footed, this is noteworthy because wayward Jews blasphemously pictured Yahweh as an anguipede. This is such an outrageous claim that I implore the reader to look it up on his own. Furthermore, don’t let the fact that the history of Athens is full of serpents throw you off, because the tribal chief of Judah, the man who lead the Jews up out of the land of Egypt under Moses, was named “Nahshon,” the usual Hebrew word for “serpent.”) was the Athenian version of Moses, (or perhaps Nahshon) he lead the Athenians up out of Egypt (Sais = Zoan = Tanis = Tanit = Athena = Zion), gave them their laws and divided the land into twelve districts. He instituted monogamy, and was the first to recognize paternity (Egypt was a matrilineal society). Although the religion of the Athenians was corrupted by their worship of Baalath (Pallas/Athene = Baalath/Zion = Palestine = Philistine), still, intricate doctrines of the Jewish belief system, permeate the myths of Athens. There was a contest with Poseidon (Dagon’s alias Apsu-Adon), the symbol of the olive branch (Salem = peace). The daughters of Cecrops carried with them an ark and were given instructions not to look upon the contents, namely, a baby born to be the dynastic King (Erecthonius, also an anguipede) to the Athenians, while the Jewish Ark contained the Messianic promise that a baby would be born who would be the King of Kings (thus the little understood but widespread symbol of the baby in an ark, such as Sargon, Adonis, Etc.). The Mythographers who inserted the story of Athena into the story of Perseus must have known what they were doing. This is also true of the story about Hermes delivering Io (the “Jew”), which I have explained elsewhere. All three stories contain maidens who are freed in accordance with the will of Zeus, by smitten heads.
For more articles by John R. Salverda on the Hebraic Connections of Greek Mythology, see:
“Helleno-Yishurin. The Hebrew Origin of Greek Legends”