Perseus and Andromeda

Day 8

Perseus and Andromeda are two famous characters of Greek mythology. You can also see them as constellations in the night sky. Perseus was a son of the god Zeus and his mother was a mortal, the Princess Danaë. Taking a break from his busy timetable of heroic feats, Perseus stopped off at The Hyperboreans – happy people for whom life was one long party. They gave him gifts: winged sandals, a magic wallet and a cap of invisibility.  In due course, he left the party and continued on his mission to slay Medusa, the snake-headed gorgon who turned to stone anyone who looked at her. Perseus was able to succeed in slaying the monster by using his magic shield as a mirror, and be guided by her reflection.

Perseus and Andromeda

Mission accomplished, Perseus flew for home, clutching the gorgon’s head in one hand and his magic shield in the other.  On the way, he spied a beautiful maiden tied to a rocky ledge over the sea. She was the Princess Andromeda, offered to be eaten by a sea monster, which was feeding off the townspeople and would only be appeased by the sacrifice of the princess. Andromeda’s mother, the Queen Cassiopeia, had insulted Nereus, a sea-goddess, by declaring herself more beautiful than Nereus’ daughter. The sacrifice of Andromeda was the punishment. Perseus rescued her, and asked her parents for her hand. They had a son, Electryon, who was the grandfather of Hercules.

Myths as Metaphor and References

In Far Out, Nate as Perseus helps Saffron to escape the Seaweed Slum. As Andromeda, Saffron is ‘tied’ to the rocky ledge of poverty, severe enough to make it difficult for her to muster the resources to improve her life. Recently, I read an interesting post by Mike Bierman, award-winning screenwriter, which discussed the question of making classical references in one’s own work. Monsters in the shark-infested waters include:

  • issues of copyright
  • relevance
  • level of obscurity

It’s important to be careful, before the event, how you reference something. Above all, song titles and lyrics can be expensive. Referencing other literary works, concepts, or other movies in detail, can put you in breach of copyright. This problem has grown with the rising popularity of fan fiction. In terms of relevance, a quote that sounds cool this year while you’re writing, can date your work in time. Level of obscurity refers to how much you expect your audience to know. It stands to reason, the more obscure the reference, the more likely it will go over their heads, however, if you want to appeal to the purists, go for it. This especially happens in syfy and fantasy, where sufficiently obtuse references will earn you a geek award. Writers should check any references they want to draw on are in the public domain, or need specific permissions or releases.

Rumour has it Mike Bierman is collecting his wonderful articles together in a book. I look forward to reading it.

Coffee ‘n Characters Summer Blog Hop 2013. Thanks to Danielle for hosting us.

First published July 2013

Image credits: Coffee ‘n Characters Bog Hopper Banner

Far Out is available on Amazon.com and Amazon UK.

PS: I’ve mislaid Day 7. I don’t want to renumber the original sequence, so I’ll post it up when I find it.

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