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Greek myths- the story of Medusa

Updated on November 3, 2012
medusa- painting by Carvaggio
medusa- painting by Carvaggio | Source


Perhaps one of the best known tales from Ancient Greek is that of the Gorgon Medusa. She was one of three Gorgons, Medusa, Stheno and Euryale.Medusa was a beautiful maiden, a priestess in Athena's temple, with many suitors. However she desecrated the altar with Poseiden. Athena became enraged at the foul desecration and took her anger out on Medusa, transforming her hair into serpents and making her face so terrible that one look would turn a man to stone. She developed an intense hatred of men.

Perseus and his quest

Perseus was tasked with bringing back a Gorgon's head to the court of King Polydectes. Perseus was the son of Zeus and a mortal woman called Danae.

He called to the Gods for help and Hermes and Athena answered his call. They gave him magical equipment to help him in his quest. A sickle, a bag, a helmet to make himself invisible, winged sandals that allowed him to fly, and a shield with which to protect himself.

Perseus attacked the Medusa and managed to fight her instead of looking at her he fought her reflection that was shown in his bright shield given to him by the Gods. He managed to slice her head from her shoulders and put the head in the bag as the powers of the Medusa were not lost on her death.

When Medusa's head was severed the winged horse Pegasus and Golden sworded giant Chrysaor came out of her head.

Love on the rocks

Perseus was flying back to the King's court when he saw a beautiful maiden in trouble. She was chained to a rock by the sea to be sacrificed in order to appease Poseiden. Her crime was nothing other than her mother had boasted that she was more beautiful than the sea nymphs.

Perseus took the Medusa's head out of the bag and showed it to the Sea Monster who was guarding the beautiful maiden. Quickly the sea monster turned to stone and Perseus was able to rescue the girl who was called Andromeda, and married her.

Perseus returned to King Polydect's court where the King demanded to see the head to check that the job had been done- the King was turned to stone instantly.

Perseus gave the Medusa's head to the Goddess Athena, in thanks for all the help she had given him- and she attached it to her brestplate as a warning to all her enemies.

Different endings

There are several versions to the story and I have chosen to write just one. They all follow the same pattern. Perseus kills Medusa and rescues someone, a beautiful maiden or in one version, his mother, from certain death or an unwanted marriage.


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