Medusa, in Greek mythology, a mortal woman who was transformed into a Gorgon, a dragon-like creature with snakes for hair. According to myth, Medusa was once a lovely maiden, but when she dared compete with Athena—either by taking too much pride in her hair or by having a love affair with the god Poseidon—the vengeful goddess turned Medusa into a monster. Medusa’s head was then so hideous that anyone who looked at it was turned to stone.

Medusa was eventually slain by Perseus, who cut off her head with the assistance of Athena and Hermes. Because Perseus dared not look at Medusa, Athena guided his hand while he viewed the reflection of Medusa’s head in his shield. The head was used against the Kraken so as to make the monster turn to stone. The Kraken was supposedly indestructible that even the Titans were afraid of it and quite reluctant of its release. However, with the guidance of the Three Witches, Perseus managed to find a way to defeat it. Perseus defeated the Kraken and saved the princess that the city mistakenly tried to sacrifice to ease the wrath of the gods. The severed head was given to Athena, who is sometimes depicted with the head of Medusa on her shield. After Medusa’s death the winged horse Pegasus—her son by Poseidon, who had disguised himself as a horse—sprang from the blood that gushed from her neck.

Medusa has been portrayed many times in art. In earlier art she is shown as a Gorgon, always hideous, with a huge mouth and lolling tongue. If given a body, she is shown running. Later artists made Medusa beautiful.

Posted 2011-01-24 and updated on Jan 24, 2011 2:23pm by crisd

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