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Journal of Seventeenth-Century Music

Journal of Seventeenth-Century Music

Volume 10 (2004) No. 1

Summary of the Plot of Persée

By Buford Norman

Act I

Cassiope, wife of king Céphée of Ethiopia, has offended the goddess Juno, who has sent Méduse to turn many of the inhabitants to stone (sc. 1). Mérope, the sister of Cassiope, is in love with Persée, but he loves the daughter of Cassiope, Andromède, who is engaged to Phinée, the brother of Céphée (sc. 2–3). Phinée complains to Andromède that she does not love him, but she replies that she will follow her duty and marry him; Mérope tries to reconcile the couple (sc. 4). Games are organized to appease Juno (sc. 5), but Méduse reappears (sc. 6).

Act II

Phinée and Mérope try to convince Cassiope, then Céphée, to respect the agreement to wed Andromède to Phinée (sc. 1–2). Céphée announces that Persée has offered to fight Méduse (sc. 2–3). Mérope and Andromède are both worried about what will happen to Persée and to their future (sc. 4–5). Andromède admits to Persée that she loves him and begs him not to fight Méduse, but he says he must (sc. 6). Mercure arrives with gifts from the gods: a sword, wings for Persée’s heels, a diamond shield, and a helmet that will make him invisible (sc. 7–10).


Méduse laments her lost beauty but says she has found new pleasure in ravaging the earth (sc. 1). Mercure puts the three Gorgons to sleep (sc. 2), and Persée cuts off the head of Méduse, using his shield as a mirror (sc. 3). Her sisters and the monsters that have sprung from Méduse’s blood try to stop Persée, but he uses his helmet and wings to escape (sc. 4–5).

Act. IV

The people acclaim Persée (sc. 1), but Mérope and Phinée together express their unhappiness (sc. 2). Idas announces that, because of Juno’s anger, Andromède has been left to die at the hands of a monster, but that Persée is trying to save her (sc. 3). Cassiope and Céphée express their anguish (sc. 4), but Andromède is willing to die to save her compatriots (sc. 5). Persée kills the monster and the people celebrate with songs of love (sc. 6–7).

Act V

Mérope is ready to die (sc. 1), but Phinée convinces her to join with him to seek vengeance (sc. 2). Persée and Andromède are about to marry when Mérope rushes in to warn them of an attack by Phinée and his troops (sc. 3–4). The battle is terrible, Mérope is killed by a stray arrow, and Persée finally uses the head of Méduse to petrify his enemies (sc. 5–7). Vénus arrives to announce the end of Juno’s anger and the apotheosis of Cassiope, Céphée, Persée, and Andromède. Persée, the victorious hero, has “won” Andromède (sc. 8).

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ISSN: 1089-747X

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