The Story of Medusa ~ Greek Mythology
Medusa is one of the most well known and talked about beings from ancient Greek mythology that we have ever heard of.
Hunted by many warriors that wished to claim the prize of her head, many tried, and many have failed. It was said that men who gazed upon her eyes would turn to stone instantly. Generally described as a winged human female with living venomous snakes in place of hair.
Medusa was one of the three Gorgon sisters, daughters of the sea gods Phorcys and Ceto. Medusa – the only mortal among the Gorgon sisters – was also distinguished from them by the fact that she alone was born with a beautiful face. Ovid especially praises the glory of her hair, “most wonderful of all her charms.”
Medusa was not always considered a monster, in fact she was a mortal who was very well known for her stunning beauty until she felt the wrath of Athena, either due to her boastfulness of her beauty or because of an ill-fated love affair with Poseidon.
Her name meant “guardian” and “protectress” and Her story shows the potential cruelty that the Greek gods can have. (Gods can have)
Transformed into a vicious monster with snakes for hair, she was killed by Perseus, who used her still potent head as a weapon, before gifting it to Athena.
Medusa was a priestess to the goddess Athena, the virgin goddess of wisdom and battle. One requirement to be a priestess for Athena is that the young woman must be a virgin and give her life to the goddess.
Medusa was stunningly beautiful with luscious hair and was often compared to Athena’s beauty. It wasn’t long before Athena’s jealousy of Medusa became obvious.
Poseidon (The god of the sea) lusted for Medusa and was infatuated by her beauty. Medusa rejected Poseidon, because if she wished to remain the priestess of Athena’s temple, she must remain a virgin.
Poseidon had a conflict with Athena and he saw Medusa as a possession that he could take from the goddess. Eventually Poseidon grew tired of being rejected by Medusa and decided that he would take her by force.
Medusa feared for her life and ran into Athena’s temple hoping Athena would protect her. Athena ignored Medusa’s plea for help, and Poseidon had his way with Medusa, by raping and impregnating the priestess on the steps of Athena’s temple. Poseidon vanished after he was done and left Medusa vulnerable and weak.
Medusa prayed to Athena for guidance and forgiveness. After all, in those days, the gods claimed their mates as their partner forever, and Medusa was now Poseidon’s wife. Athena was in rage that Medusa had lost her virginity to Poseidon, and she decided that she would punish Medusa. Punishment against the gods such as Poseidon was considered unthinkable.
Athena cursed Medusa and the hair that she was once so envious of and turned her hair into a head of venomous snakes. Medusa was now a monster woman.
Medusa was banished from civilization. Anyone who looked into her eyes would be petrified and turned to stone. She looked at them in fear and saw them turn to stone in front of her eyes. She was scared of her powers and angry at the gods for cursing her.
Word spread of the monster that Medusa had become, and she became the target of many warriors that literally wanted her head. All that tried shared the same fate and were turned to stone after looking into Medusa’s eyes. Until Perseus, son of Zeus was tasked with retrieving her head.
Perseus’s mother was being forced into marriage with Polydectes, the king of Seriphos.
Trying to get rid of Perseus, Polydectes sent the great hero on a quest. “Fetch me the head of Medusa,” commanded Polydectes.
In order to complete his task, Perseus required aid from the gods.
He was given a helmet from Hades that made him invisible to Medusa. A pair of winged sandals from Hermes allowed him to reach Medusa. Athena gave him a bronze shield that was able to reflect the gaze of Medusa and lastly, he was given a sword from Zeus that was sharp enough to cut the head off Medusa.
Since Medusa was the only one of the three Gorgons who was mortal, Perseus was able to slay her while looking at the reflection from the mirrored shield he received from Athena.
Medusa was pregnant at the time of her death with the baby of Poseidon, and When Perseus severed her head, her two unborn children Pegasus, a winged horse, and Chrysaor, a giant wielding a golden sword, sprang from her body.
Perseus would use the head of Medusa which retained its ability to turn onlookers to stone, to aid him in several adventures and it played a crucial role when defeating the Titan Atlas.
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