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Perseus and Andromeda by Peter Paul Rubens (1622) Hermitage Museum (Public Domain)

Perseus, The Greek Variant Of Sumerian Gilgamesh

Perseus is one of the greatest heroes of Greek tradition, venerated as a demigod. But is Perseus really of Greek origin or was his legend brought from elsewhere to Greece? According to the Greek father of history Herodotus in his The Histories (6.54), the Persians maintained that “Perseus was an Assyrian who adopted Greek nationality”. This means that Perseus was originally of Mesopotamian origin and could probably be traced to none other than the well-known Gilgamesh, whose story was brought from Mesopotamia to Greek shores.

Hera discovering Zeus with Io, by Pieter Lastman (1617) (Public Domain)

Hera discovering Zeus with Io, by Pieter Lastman (1617) (Public Domain)

The Perseids or Danaans

The family-tribe from whom Perseus purportedly descended is called the Perseids or Danaans. According to Greek tradition, the lineage of Zeus and Io, through Belus and Anchinoe, produced two brothers, namely Danaos and Aegyptus, from whom the Danaans were descended. The names, Danaos (Danajo) and Aegyptus (Aikupitijo), appear in Mycenaean sources, showing this to have been a very old Greek tradition, also known to Homer and Hesiod. Danaos and his family migrated to Greece during an early epoch in Greek history.


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