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Medusa Greek Mythology | The Woman with Snakes Hair


Medusa Greek Mythology | The Woman with Snakes Hair


Medusa is one of the three Gorgons (horrible female creature) along with her sisters Euryale and Stheno in Greek mythology and is the only one to be mortal. Her hair is intertwined with serpents and has the power to petrify any mortal who looks into her eyes. She is killed by the Greek hero Perseus.

There are many versions of the myth of Medusa and none has been certified until today. But the monster known to all hasn’t always had its repulsive appearance and horrific powers. We invite you to discover below 5 elements on its history:

Medusa, monstrous and saving, the story of a look that kills and a blood that gives life!

The origins of the Medusa

Daughter of two marine deities, Phorcys and Keto, Medusa had a 100% human appearance. Conversely, his two sisters Sitheno and Euryale were gorgons. Gorgons are monsters combining the body of a woman and that of a snake. They also had the power to petrify anyone who looked into their eyes. When she reached adulthood, the young Medusa had become a magnificent woman loved by all. Although the men tried to conquer her, the latter paid no attention. She wanted, since childhood, to become a priestess of Athena. For this fact, the apprentices of the temple had to have an exemplary conduct so as not to taint the goddess. The young priestesses had to give up on love and remain forever a virgin.

Object of revenge

She was endowed with great beauty and magnificent hair. Many gods and men were madly in love with them and no longer went to the temple of Athena to adulate the goddess but to admire her disciple. Besides, Poseidon, god of the sea, had a disagreement with the owner of the Temple. In revenge, he decided that his most devoted and exemplary disciple should be defiled.

Read also: Multi Headed Serpent of Myth | Greek Mythological Creature

While she was resting at the edge of the water, the latter approached her and tried to seduce her. But the Medusa pushed him away, affirming her vows of purity to her goddess. The god did not want anyone to refuse him his favors. Although the young woman fled to the temple to pray and ask for Athena’s protection, Poseidon came out of the sea to take her by force on the altar of the goddess.

A terrible curse

Mad with rage, the goddess appeared and blamed the young woman, barely raped, for having defiled her temple and exuberant her beauty in the eyes of men. As a token of her “dishonour”, the goddess decided to punish her by transforming her hair into snakes and giving her the curse to petrify anyone who meets her gaze.

Many people are still wondering today about the reason for this horrible curse. The vengeful goddess was inspired by the two sisters of the young woman. The latter was born with unparalleled beauty, while her gorgon sisters were “hideous”. This is why Athena, in revenge, decided to make her as hideous as them and to give her the same destructive power.

The Exile of the Monster

Following the curse, Medusa cried all the tears in her body before her friend Iphicles approached her to console her. She looked at him and in an instant, her confidant had turned into a stone statue.

To avoid doing more harm, she exiled herself to uninhabited lands. But as she fled, everyone who looked into her eyes was also petrified. While she only wanted to run away, the rumor of a monster with snake hair spread.

Recluse in an abandoned temple, many warriors tried to find her and kill her. But everyone remained stony in his eyes and erected a fortress all around the temple. One day, the young woman was looking for something to eat near her new home and came face to face with a broken bust representing Athena, the temple where she was hiding was in fact one of the first homes of the goddess. In her boundless adoration, she brought the statue back to her lair and resumed her priestess vows.

Her tragic death

According to the texts of Pindar and Apollodorus, a king named Polydectus wanted to woo Danae. However, her son Perseus didn’t think the man was good enough for her. The king had therefore promised him that if he brought Medusa’s head back to him, he would not marry his mother. It was then that Perseus embarked on his quest helped by Hermes and Athena. The goddess also offers him a shield so polished that it reflected like a mirror.

He first meets the sisters of the Gorgons, the Graeae, creatures old from birth who are not exposed to the light of the sun or that of the moon. Then the nymphs, who showed him the direction of the abandoned temple of Medusa. As a bonus, they offered him winged sandals that allow him to fly, the helmet of Hades which has the ability to make invisible as well as a bag to put the head of Medusa in.

Arriving at the scene, he squeezed his way between the hundreds of stone statues that surrounded him. Covered with the mask of invisibility and looking away, the young man approached her using the mirror shield as a guide. Before she noticed, he chopped off her head. Perseus then flew away to give the monster’s head to the king, but on the way his blood spilled over the Libyan desert, giving rise to the many snakes that burrow under the sand.

Some specialists claim that Athena, seeing Medusa’s devotion, even reclusive and abandoned by everyone, would have wanted to help Perseus to relieve her pain by killing her. This would therefore be why, after her death, Medusa served as an emblem for the goddess and as a lucky charm.

What is Medusa’s power?

Complementing her powers, Medusa possesses enhanced physical abilities, typical of those granted by the physiology of the Inhuman race, genetically superior to humans. She is also very adept at interpreting Black Arrow’s gestures and body language, and masters a special sign language which she uses to communicate with him.

Sources: PinterPandai, Britannica, World History, GreekMythology

Photo credit: Artist: Caravaggio (1571–1610). Transferred from en.wikipedia. Original uploader was Hugh Manatee at en.wikipedia. Original uploader was Hugh Manatee at en.wikipedia. Later version(s) were uploaded by Ghirlandajo at en.wikipedia. 2005-07-26 (first version); 2006-11-21 (last version) via Wikimedia Commons

Main photo description: Artist: Caravaggio (1571–1610).

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