6

Perseus armed with a sickle has a well established iconography in Greek mythology:

From Theoi.com:

Perseus decapitates the Gorgon Medusa

But why does Perseus carry this "weapon" instead of a proper sword, like it is shown in later depictions?

The obvious answer is because the Gods gave it to him and it was magical. About who exactly gave him this weapon, Theoi.com has sources for Athena and Hermes, while Wikipedia says it was Zeus in two articles: Perseus and harpe).

But is there any meaning to it?

Like an agricultural link, or maybe a clue pointing to a possible foreign origin of this myth?

And, if it was really Zeus the god who gave the sickle to Perseus, does that mean it could be the same sickle used by Cronus against his father Uranus?

  • Jocelyn M. Woodward, Perseus: A Study in Greek Art and Legend, (1937/ Cambr.), is a short study relating various versions of the Perseus story and commenting representations: "Harpe, the sword with which Perseus slew medusa. Greek art shows it first straight, then sickle-shaped and finally a mixture of both." (p.98) And perhaps answering the question "if" that continues by "could that mean" is not really interesting. – sand1 Jun 1 '18 at 21:09
  • @sand1 Quote from the web mythology.net: "Hermes gave Perseus his winged sandals for speed and the sickle that had been used by Cronus to castrate his father." The link is to Google cache, as I get the "This site can't provide a secure connection" error. – Rodia Jun 5 '18 at 18:22
  • @sand1 This detail of the story seems to be being copied and pasted around. Quick example from the Malta Classics Association: "Hermes gave him a pair of winged sandals and the scythe that Cronus used to liberate certain appendages from his father." – Rodia Jun 5 '18 at 18:22
  • @sand1 There's also a mention about both sickles being the same in The Origin of Pagan Idolatry ascertained from Historical Testimony and Circumstantial Evidence, vol. II, by XIX century theologian George Stanley Faber. – Rodia Jun 5 '18 at 18:22
  • 1
    The sickle is used a lot in Greek mythology to slay serpent-monsters Just look Herakles killing the hydra with a sickle: vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/greekmythology/images/4/47/…, Here is Zeus fighting another snake creature Typhoon (Apollodorus) : However Zeus pelted Typhon at a distance with thunderbolts, and at close quarters struck him down with an adamantine sickle. So sickle is associated quite clearly with "snake" killing – Gibet Jun 14 '18 at 11:47

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.