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Was Medusa's Fate Truly Fair?

Updated on February 24, 2013

Medusa's Head on Athena's Shield

Medusa, by Caravaggio (1595)
Medusa, by Caravaggio (1595) | Source

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.

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    • profile image

      Shykitty 

      3 years ago

      This story is a good representation of today's judicial system in which the rape victim is often blamed for what has occurred to them (revealing clothes, out too late, etc.). It gives Medusa's story a much deeper meaning worthy of discussion that is not found in the other more popular versions of her myth.

      Also someone commented on Medusa that she might have been willing because the definition of rape was based on who owned her virginity. Well in this case if she was willing, the story take a different meaning that is also worthy of discussion and thought in the sense that perhaps Medusa was sexually oppressed. I mean Athena was goddess of virtue and in those times women were held in a sense to Athena's standards. Because of this promiscuity in women, like Medusa perhaps, was looked down upon and even punishable whereas in men it was likely not the case and overlooked like in much of today's society.

    • profile image

      Rahmad 

      3 years ago

      very cute crib, December 26, 2012Bya0 Amazon Verified Purchase() This review is from: We love this crib. It wasn't too hard to put tohtgeer but you do have to pay attention to the instruction or you might miss a step. The screws do show on the outside of the crib but they don't bother us. The cherry finish is nice and we weren't missing any parts and nothing was broken. I can't wait to put the mattress in and crib set for my little girl when she gets here. This crib matches the other afg cherry wood furniture that we bought ..molly 6 drwer dresser and leila changer dresser. The wood is good quality and we are 100% satisfied with our purchase. We got this on sale on amazon and paid only 162 dollars with free shipping!! We got a great deal!!Help other customers find the most helpful reviewsa0Was this review helpful to you?a0 | a0

    • profile image

      Lailani 

      3 years ago

      4 of 4 people found the foollwing review helpful Beautiful Crib, Easy To Assemble, March 8, 2012Bya0 This review is from: I received this crib yesterday. The outside of the box it came in looked a little dinged up, with one big hole going through to styrofoam on one side, but I checked all the pieces and they were fine. Probably the thing I was most nervous about, before buying the crib, was that this is made of soft pine, so I wanted to make sure there were no dents in the wood before putting it together. Everything looked to be intact with no dings, and the pieces were packaged separately in the box. All of the hardware needed to assemble the crib was included. It also came with the toddler railing.The instructions for putting the crib together were clear and it was very easy to assemble. I'm 35 weeks pregnant and did it on my own in about 2 hours. Along the way, at different stages of assembly, I would give it some test nudges to make sure it was stable at the corners and would tighten bolts if needed. Once it was all put together it felt very solid. It's easy to push around on carpet, not too heavy. There were a couple places where I accidentally dented the wood while screwing in a bolt, but it was off to the sides where it's not very visible.Per the other review, I do have to say I was thrown off by how visible the screws are on the front, but I think I will just buy some white paint to cover them with so they blend in. Also, I know some people have been concerned about the big gold warning sticker that you can see in the picture for this item. If you don't want to see it, you can just turn that railing around so it's facing the inside during assembly.I purchased the LA Baby organic crib mattress separately and it fits perfectly. I did the two fingers test and all 4 sides are snug.Finally, I feel good about the fact that there is a website for the manufacturer of this product with phone numbers and emails to contact customer service should I need to do that.Help other customers find the most helpful reviewsa0Was this review helpful to you?a0 | a0

    • profile image

      Guest 

      5 years ago

      Is there anonymous posting.

      Well anyone part of the reason is the Greek word translated as "Rape" was defined by their parent or god in the case of Medusa. Essentially a girl didn't own her virginity, a male did.

      Therefore regardless of whether Medusa was willingly or not, it would still count as Greek rape as Medusa's virginity belonged to Athena.

    • Kris Oller profile imageAUTHOR

      Kris Oller 

      5 years ago from Modesto, Ca

      You're right ... somethimg more about the demonization of the victim is something that is worthy of looking into (and not only cuz it is in no way fair, and only victimizes them further).

    • wingedcentaur profile image

      William Thomas 

      5 years ago from That Great Primordial Smash UP of This and That Which Gave Rise To All Beings and All Things!

      Hi Kris Oller!

      Once again let me compliment you on a fantastic short hub (The only thing wrong with it was the fact that I was intrigued and wanted more!). I voted it 'up,' 'useful,' and 'interesting.' It appears that, once again, "good" and "evil" truly are a matter of perspective.

      The real skinny on Medusa, you have given us here, reminds me of the about face my perspective on Elphaba (The "Wicked Witch of the West" from Wizard of Oz) took when I read Gregory Maguire's novel, "Wicked," from which the made a stage play of course.

      In fact, my view of who was good and who was evil in general, in that world, took the one-eighty. I viewed sweet, innocent Dororthy with a more jaundiced eye after that, as I recall. I am so very disappointed in Athena.

      Anyway, this fuller version of the Medusa story bears deep consideration for the way we still tend to demonize female rape victims; more broadly, we should never take people's "preceding reputations" for granted; we should ask what is behind these reputations (of course, its not guaranteed that you're always going to find out that Mr. X is a nice guy after all and all that).

      Okay, that's it. Keep up the good work.

      Take it easy.

    working

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