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Was Medusa's Fate Truly Fair?
Medusa's Head on Athena's Shield
Punished for someone else's crime.
When most people think of Medusa, they imagine the hair made entirely of snakes, and the stare that could turn anyone into stone (even after her death), but she did not start out the way that most people think of her. In fact, her story is probably far more sad than anyone who isn't familiar with the earlier portions of her history would imagine.
When Medusa was young, she was a beautiful priestess of Athena, but trouble came when Poseidon decided that he wanted her. As a result, instead of gaining Medusa's permission to sleep with her, he decided that he was going to take her by force. Because of this decision, Poseidon raped Medusa, and he did it within the confines of Athena's temple.
Athena, finding out what had happened, and knowing that she would never be able to confront her uncle for what he did in committing such a heinous act inside one of her temples, turned her anger on Medusa. Athena claimed that Medusa must be punished for the sacrilege that was committed within her temple. So, it was then that Medusa, rape victim, was turned into a victim once again; instead of being able to get the help and understanding that she should have been able to after such a heinous act, she was forced to live the rest of her life alone (with only her statues for company).
Of course, it was Poseidon that should have been punished for such an act, but why does no one in this scenario think that there is anything wrong with punishing Medusa for what was done upon her? In the years to come, in the stories that Medusa is a part of, she becomes a creature that is to be feared and avoided. Only those who want to test their courage, and who think that they are going to be able to kill her are so reckless as to try to go anywhere near her. And eventually, a "hero" (by the name of Perseus) comes along to cut off her head so that it can be used as a weapon, with her head eventually finding its way onto Athena's shield.
All in all, her story is a rather sad one. First she is violated; then, she is turned into a monster for what has happened to her; and finally, she is killed as a trophy by someone who wanted to make a name for himself.
It would seem, from her story that even in antiquity, there was blame being put on the victim of rape, instead of on the person who committed the crime. It may be true that Athena didn't have many options to quell her rage for what she saw a sacrilege being committed in her temple, but taking it out on the person who was least responsible for what happened does not seem like the right way to go. And in going about things the way that she did, perhaps Athena proved herself to not be as wise as we have always been lead to believe that she was supposed to be.