Μέδουσα

Screenshot-1Medusa4Greek mythology has always intrigued me. I find it an accurate portrayal of human nature ranging from revenge, justice, jealousy, and deceit. One Greek mythology that has captured my attention more than others is the story of the gorgon Medusa. While there are various Greek mythologies regarding Medusa, I’m going to focus on the mythology which I find the most intriguing and immoral.

Background:

Medusa is one of the three sisters known as the Gorgons. The term gorgon is derived from Medusa1the Greek word gorgós meaning dreadful and denotes a terrifying female creature. The other two gorgon sisters, Stheno and Euryale, are immortal unlike Medusa who is eventually murdered by the demigod Perseus.

Medusa’s Story:

Medusa was not always a hideous female with living venomous snake hair who turned people to stone at the direct sight of her. In fact, before Medusa was cursed she was a ravishingly beautiful woman with magnificent long hair. She was known to be so beautiful that she was beyond the reach of any male desire. Medusa comes from the Greek word Μέδουσα (Médousa) meaning guardian and protectress. Being a priestess in Athena’s temple, Medusa took a vow of chastity and was originally known as a symbol of purity due to her innocent sexual nature.

Medusa2Note: While Athena is commonly known as the goddess of warfare she is also the the virgin goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, civilization, law and justice, mathematics, strength, strategy, the arts, crafts, and skill.

Poseidon (God of the Sea), in a state of aroused lust, raped Medusa while she she was worshiping in Athena’s temple refusing to allow her vow of chastity to stand in the way of his sexual desires. Athena caught them together and was outraged at the sight of her temple being desecrated {Also note that Athena was exceedingly jealous of Medusa’s beauty}. Athena cursed Medusa for being a temptress by transforming Medusa’s beautiful hair to serpents and making her face so dreadful to behold that the mere sight of it would turn onlookers to stone. Medusa was then exiled to a distant island.

Death:

The demigod Perseus desired to be regarded as a hero. In an attempted to gain this glory hePerseusHead swore to slay the monstrous creature Medusa. Athena gave Perseus a mirrored shield to help him protect himself from the direct gaze of Medusa. He also received winged sandals from Hermes, a sword from Hephaestus, and Hades’ helm of invisibility in his conquest to kill Medusa.

In a cave on the island to which Medusa was exiled, Perseus came upon a slumbering Medusa. By viewing Medusa’s reflection in the mirrored shield from Athena, Perseus safely approached and cut off Medusa’s head. The other two Gorgon sisters pursued Perseus, but, wearing Hades’ helm of invisibility, he escaped.

Aftermath:

Medusa6Medusa was impregnated by Poseidon when he raped her however the curse placed upon her by Athena did not allow her body to be a vessel of birth. When Perseus beheaded her, Pegasus, a winged horse, and Chrysaor, a golden sword-wielding giant, sprang from her body. The spilled blood from her body also is known to have formed the corals of the Red Sea, the poisonous vipers of the Sahara, and a horned dragon-like creature with a snake-headed tail.

After slaying Medusa, Perseus used her head as a weapon as the direct sight of it still turned onlookers to stone. As a token of gratitude, Perseus eventually gave the head to Athena to place on her shield as a weapon.

My Thoughts:

Short Version- Athena is a bitch, Poseidon is a bastard, and Medusa was an innocent victim of unbridled lust, untamed jealousy, and biased assumptions.

Longer Version- A) Even though Greek mythology is fictional, the circumstances of Medusa’s life ignite feelings of empathy, sadness, and anger inside me. There are parts of this mythology that are extremely reflective of the unjust and bitter realities of life:

  1. No matter how much one tries there is only a certain degree of control one has over their environment/life/future.
  2. People will form narrow-minded and biased opinions of you based upon the views of Medusa3others. It is hard, if not impossible, to break a reputation once it has taken hold.
  3. Justice only exists in the conceptual sense.
  4. People are held accountable for things that were not their fault and out of their control
  5. Jealousy, selfishness, envy, anger, obsessions, want of fame, fortune, and recognition, power, hasty decisions, partial understandings, and sexual desires are devastatingly harmful when left untamed.
  6. Being misunderstood is a part of life.
  7. There is a certain degree of loneliness that accompanies existing.
  8. To expect sympathy and empathy from others is naive.
  9. People will disappoint you.
  10. Pain is a natural part of life.

B) Medusa is widely know to hate man. She was betrayed, cursed, and exiled because she was raped. Of course she hates males! That is a natural (and maybe even healthy to some degree) response to such an unfortunate situation. Anyone that went through what Medusa went through would have incalculable amounts of anger and resentment towards others.

C) How can the goddess of WISDOM AND JUSTICE punish someone for being raped? There was nothing wise or just in Athena’s reaction. Nothing. It was a rash decision based upon anger and jealousy not wisdom and justice.

One comment

  1. Mike Brown (KharaSoft) says:

    I’ve loved Greek and Roman Mythology since I was 8. The story of Perseus was the first I ever read. He was the bastard son of Zeus and Danae, the daughter of Acrisius, king of Argos, who received a prophecy that he would die at the hand of his grandson. Rather than facing the wrath of the gods for killing his offspring, he put them into a wooden crate and cast them to sea saying that their lives were in Poseidon’s hands.

    Perseus went on to slay Medusa not to prove his mettle as a hero but because the king of the island where he and Danae washed ashore demanded Medusa’s head as a gift (this was, the king hoped, not only a futile task but also a deadly one).

    I’m actually writing a story about a daughter born from the rape of Medusa and raised by the gorgons.

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