Polydectes announced a large banquet where eachguest was expected to bring a gift.[note 2] Polydectes requested that the guests bring horses, under the pretense that he was collecting contributions for the hand ofHippodamia, "tamer of horses". The fisherman's protegé had no horse to give, so asked Polydectes to name the gift, for he would not refuse it. Polydectes held Perseus to hisrash promise, demanding the head of the only mortal Gorgon, Medusa, whose very expression turned people to stone. Ovid's anecdotal embroidery of Medusa's mortality tellsthat she had once been a woman, vain of her beautiful hair, who lay with Poseidon in the Temple of Athena. In punishment for the desecration of her temple, Athena changedMedusa's hair into hideous snakes "that she may alarm her surprised foes with terror".
Athena instructed Perseus to find the Hesperides, who were entrusted withweapons needed to defeat the Gorgon. Following Athena's guidance, Perseus sought out the Graeae, sisters of the Gorgons, to demand the whereabouts of the Hesperides, thenymphs tending Hera's orchard. The Graeae were three perpetually old women, who had to share one eye and one tooth between them. As the women passed the eye from one to theother, Perseus snatched it from them, holding it ransom in return for the location of the nymphs. When the sisters led him to the Hesperides, he returned what he had taken.