In Greek mythology, Serifos is where Danaë and her infant son Perseus washed ashore after her father Acrisius, in response to an oracle that his own grandson would kill him, set them adrift at sea in a wooden chest. When Perseus returned to Serifos with the head of the Gorgon Medusa, he turned Polydektes, the king of Serifos, and his retainers into stone as punishment for the king’s attempt to marry his mother by force.
In antiquity, the island was proverbial for the alleged muteness of its frogs. During the Roman imperial period, Serifos was a place of exile. After 1204 it became a minor dependency of the Venetian dukes of the Archipelago. In the late 19th century Serifos experienced a modest economic boom from the exploitation of the island’s extensive iron ore deposits. The mines closed in the 1960s, and Serifos now depends on tourism and small-scale agriculture.
Seriphos was colonised by Ionians from Athens, and it was one of the few islands which refused submission to Xerxes I. By subsequent writers Seriphos is almost always mentioned with contempt on account of its poverty and insignificance;and it was for this reason employed by the Roman emperors as a place of banishment for state criminals. It is curious that the ancient writers make no mention of the iron and copper mines of Seriphos, which were, however, worked in antiquity, as is evident from existing traces, and which, one might have supposed, would have bestowed some prosperity upon the island. But though the ancient writers are silent about the mines, they are careful to relate that the frogs of Seriphos differ from the rest of their fraternity by being mute.