Medusa appears in Greek mythology as a Gorgon , female monster that has the ability to turn people that look at her eyes into stone. She is best known in Greek myths as being beheaded by Perseus, who used her head as a weapon. He later gave the head to the goddess Athena, which she placed on her shield. Her name translates in ‘guardian or protectress.’ Other details regarding Medusa are found in this article.
Medusa’s Parents and Siblings
Medusa was the product of Phorcys and Ceto.
Phorcys is a primordial sea god who was known as the oldest child of Oceanus and Tethys. In some depictions of the god, he is shown as a merman with the tail of a fish. His forelegs are in the shape of crab claws and his skin is spiked with redness.
Ceto is a primordial sea goddess who appears in Greek myths as one of Phorcys’ mates. She is the daughter of Gaia and Pontus. With Ceto, Phorcys fathered a collection of monstrous offspring, which were referred to under the collective term of the Phorcydes.
Medusa is one of three terrifying Gorgon sisters along with Stheno and Euryale. They all had sharp fangs and a crop of venomous snakes on top of their heads. Stheno was the oldest of the sisters and had a reputation for being the most independent and ferocious out of all the siblings. She was known to have killed more men than both of her sisters put together.
Euryale is often mentioned as the sister who emits roaring cries, which become most noticeable when she learns of the death of Medusa at the hands of Perseus. Interestingly, Stheno and Euryale were immortal, while Medusa was a mortal.
Roman Medusa Myth
There is a late myth involving Medusa and how she came to be the hideous monster that she is mostly known for. The Roman poet Ovid states in his work, Metamorphoses, that Medusa had once been a beautiful woman. Many suitors were after her and she was a priestess in the temple of Athena. However, when Medusa laid with Poseidon , the Lord of the Sea , Athena became intensely angry. She decided to transform Medusa’s lovely locks into serpents. She also made her face into something so horrific that to look at her would mean turning into stone. Ovid also wrote that Perseus believed that Medusa’s punishment was well deserved.
Perseus is a hero in Greek mythology that beheaded Medusa, as he was sent to fetch it. The gods gave Perseus help that came in the form of winged sandals from Athena and Hermes, a cap of invisibility from Hades, sword, and a mirrored shield. Perseus was able to defeat Medusa by looking at her reflection in the mirror so that he wouldn’t turn into stone. When Medusa’s head was severed , two offspring came out of her neck because Poseidon had impregnated her. This is how the winged horse Pegasus and the golden giant Chrysaor came to be.