Perseus and Medusa
12 narrators numbered N1 to N12 (the chorus)
Danaë, his mother
Polydectes, King of Seriphos
We gods of Greece would like to tell
A tale that’s sure to thrill
Of how a hero slew the beast
Whose gruesome looks could kill
N1: Perseus was the son of Zeus, king of the gods, and he was brave, strong, and clever. He grew up on the island of Seriphos with his mother, Danaë.
Enter Perseus then Danaë
N2: The king of Seriphos was called Polydectes. He had fallen for Danaë, but she did not wish to marry him. Polydectes would not leave her alone, and Perseus had to protect her.
Enter Polydectes; he tries to woo Danaë, she refuses, Perseus protects her
N3: Polydectes had an idea. He pretended he was going to marry another woman, and asked every nobleman on the island to give him a horse as a wedding gift.
Enter courtiers; they give king horses
N4: Perseus was so pleased the king had given up on his mother that he made a proud boast. ‘Instead of a horse,’ he said, ‘I will bring you the head of the gorgon, Medusa.’
N5: Polydectes was amazed, for gorgons were terrible, deadly monsters.
Enter Gorgons looking scary
They looked like women, but were incredibly ugly, with snakes for hair, huge teeth, and a tongue sticking out. Anyone looking at them was so terrified they turned to stone.
A courtier is turned to stone; exit gorgons
N6: Polydectes accepted Perseus’s offer. He hoped Perseus would get turned to stone, then he could have Danaë to himself.
Polydectes nods to Perseus, laughs to himself.
Exit all except Perseus
To succeed in this dangerous quest Perseus would need magic objects from the gods. Luckily the gods liked him because he was the son of Zeus.
Enter Athena; she gives shield to Perseus then puts helmet on his head
N7: The goddess Athena gave him a shiny shield. ‘Take this,’ she said, ‘and look at the gorgon’s reflection in it, so you can see her without being petrified. And take this helmet of invisibility too. Now you may see them, but not be seen.’
Enter Hermes; he gives sword and bag and puts wings on Perseus’s feet
N8: Hermes, messenger of the gods, gave Perseus a magic sword. ‘This is to cut off her hideous head,’ said Hermes. ‘And these things you will need too: a magic bag to put the head in, and my magic wings to fly away.’
N9: ‘Now you must find the gorgons,’ said Hermes. ‘But the only ones who know where they live are their sisters, the Graeae.’ The god pointed the way for Perseus to fly.
Hermes points direction; Perseus begins to walk
Exit Hermes and Athena
N10: Perseus began his long journey to find the cave of the Graeae. The Graeae were three young women with grey hair, and only one eye and one tooth between them.
Enter Graeae. They sit together, stirring a pot, passing eye and tooth to each other.
Perseus found the cave at last. The Graeae were cooking supper, passing the eye and the tooth to one another.
N11: Perseus crept up behind them and snatched the eye, then the tooth from them.
Perseus creeps up and snatches eye and tooth
‘Thief!’ they cried. ‘Give us back our eye for seeing! Give us back our tooth for chewing!’
Graeae grope blindly for Perseus, he evades them
N12: ‘I think I shall keep them,’ said Perseus, ‘unless you will tell me where to find your sisters, the Gorgons.’
N11: ‘Give us back our seeing and our chewing, then we will tell you,’ said the Graeae.
N12: ‘You must think I am stupid,’ said Perseus. 'Bye bye then, you blind and hungry witches.'
Perseus pretends to leave
N1: ‘Very well, cruel thief,’ said the Graeae, and they told him their secret. Laughing, Perseus gave them back the eye and the tooth, then he flew off to the land of the Gorgons.
Perseus runs off after giving back eye and tooth – Exit Graeae
N2: When he reached Medusa’s lair Perseus saw it was surrounded by wild beasts and men who had been turned to stone. Like statues they stood, worn down by the rain.
Enter gorgons, asleep, and petrified men; Perseus shudders at statues. He draws his sword.
N3: The hero entered the hall, shield and sword at the ready. He was as brave as any man, but he trembled for fear of ending up like the men of stone.
Perseus enters lair; he is afraid; looks in shield
N4: Looking in his polished shield Perseus saw the gorgons asleep on the floor. Slowly he sneaked past Medusa’s two sisters. Medusa awoke, smelling human flesh.
Perseus sneaks past 2 gorgons. Medusa awakes and sniffs; Perseus hides behind pillar
N5: Perseus hid behind a statue and peeked out with his shield. Medusa listened and sniffed the air. When she looked the other way, Perseus stepped out and stabbed her with his sword.
Perseus stabs, cuts off head
N6: Perseus cut off Medusa’s head, picked it up by the snakes and put it in the bag, taking care not to look at the frightful face.
Perseus takes off Medusa’s wig and puts in bag
But the noise had awoken the other gorgons. They roared in fury at the murder of their sister.
Other gorgons awake, see Medusa, and scream angrily.
N7: But the gorgons could not see Perseus because of his magic helmet. ‘Listen,’ they said. ‘Don’t you know we are called gorgons because we are so gorgeous? Why don’t you look at us?’
N8: ‘I see you well enough in my shield,’ said Perseus. ‘And you are called gorgons because you are so ugly, you should be thrown into a gorge!’
They tried to find him, but Perseus crept quietly past. Outside the hall he took off, back to Seriphos.
Perseus creeps out, flies off, exit gorgons & statues. Enter Polydectes and courtiers, all eating
N9: Back in Seriphos the king was feasting with his courtiers. Perseus entered and showed him the magic bag. ‘Here, o king,’ said Perseus, ‘I have brought you the gift I promised.’
Perseus holds up the bag
N10: They laughed at him. ‘Foolish boy,’ said Polydectes. ‘Do you expect me to believe you could defeat such a dreadful monster?’
King and courtiers laugh at Perseus
N11: ‘Then let me prove it to you,’ said Perseus. He took Medusa’s head out of the bag, and the terrified king and his friends were turned to solid rock.
Perseus takes out head, king and courtiers are frozen, Hermes and Athena enter right
N12: Perseus had saved his mother from King Polydectes. He gave the magic wings back to Hermes. The gorgon’s head he gave to Athena, and the goddess wore it forevermore on her breastplate.
Athena takes head, Hermes wings
So ends our tale of Perseus
A brave and clever chap
He killed the beast and saved his mum
And now it’s time to clap
Everyone comes back on and bows in a line
Pronunciation: Perseus – PER-see-us
Danae – Dah-NAH-ee
Polydectes – Polly-DECK-teez
Medusa – Muh-DYOO-suh
Graeae – GREY-eye
Athena – A-THEE-na
Hermes – HER-meez
Seriphos – SEH-ri-foss