One of the most popular monsters of Greek Mythology, Medusa was a beautiful maiden with golden hair. She vowed to be celibate her entire life as a priestess of Athena until she fell in love with Poseidon.
She went against her vow and married him.
For this Athena punished her hideously. She turned Medusa into an ugly creature by making her eyes bloodshot and raging and her face haglike. The once lovely hair was morphed into poisonous, dangerous snakes. Her pure white milky skin turned a scary green hue. From then on she roamed, shamed, shunned and loathed by everyone.
Thence, by Athena’s curse anyone she looked upon turned to stone.
Interesting Facts About Medusa
- Born to the sea god Phorcys and Ceto (Phorcys’ wife and sister), Medusa (queen or ruler) was one of the three Gorgon sisters. The other two sisters were Stheno (strength) and Euryale (wide-leaping).
- Greek poet Hesiod wrote that Medusa lived close to the Hesperides in the Western Ocean near Sarpedon. Herodotus the historian said her home was Libya.
- Medusa’s sisters were immortal but she was mortal.
- Medusa wandered Africa for some time. Legend says while she was there baby snakes dropped from her head and this is why there are plenty of snakes in Africa.
- Many artists made Medusa into a work of art.
- Leonardo da Vinci did a painting of her using oil on canvas.
- She was made into marble and bronze sculptures.
- From c. 200 B.C.: In Pompeii’s House of the Faun, Medusa was on the breastplate of Alexander the Great in the Alexander Mosaic.
- The coat of arms of the Dohalice village from the Czech Republic depicts Medusa’s head.
- The flag and emblem of Sicily also features her head.
- Two species of snakes contain her name: the venomous pitviper Bothriopsis medusa and the nonvenomous snake called Atractus medusa.
- Medusa represents philosophy, beauty and art.
- The Medusa head is part of fashion designer Gianni Versace’s symbol.
- She has been featured in movies, books, cartoons and even video games.
- There are several versions of the Medusa myth.
- In almost every version of the Medusa myth, King Polydectes of Seriphus sent Perseus to return with her head so that Polydectes could marry his mother. The gods aided Perseus in his quest and he was sent golden winged sandals from Hermes, Hades’ helm of invisibility, a sword from Hephaestus and a mirrored shield from Athena.
- Perseus the hero slayed Medusa, the only mortal of the Gorgon sisters, by viewing her in the reflection of the mirrored shield of Athena. Perseus then beheaded her. At this moment Chrysaor, the giant with a golden sword, and the winged horse Pegasus sprang forth from her body. These are her two sons.
- In feminism Medusa is known as a symbol of rage even though she was originally exceedingly beautiful.
- A Roman cameo from the second or third century contains her head.
- A tepidarium from the Roman era has a mosaic floor with her head at the center.
- Her profile is engraved on coins of the reign of Seleceus I Nicator of Syria from 312-280 B.C.
- The Artemis temple in Corfu depicts Medusa in archaic form. She is a symbol of fertility dressed in a belt of intertwined snakes.
- A story says that Hercules acquired a lock of Medusa’s hair from Athena and gave it to the daughter of Cepheus, Sterope, to protect the town of Tegea from being attacked. Her hair held the same powers as her head so that when it was exposed it caused a storm which chased away the foes.
Medusa is one of the most famous characters of Greek mythology. This has been proven because she continues to be portrayed in pop culture. She is not only immortalized in stories but also in history. She is immediately recognizable, a classical figure and an exciting symbol of a monster.
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