MEDUSA

In Greek mythology, Medusa (/mɪˈdjuːzə, -sə/; Μέδουσα "guardian, protectress") also called Gorgo, was one of the three monstrous Gorgons, generally described as winged human females with living venomous snakes in place of hair. Those who gazed into her eyes would turn to stone. Most sources describe her as the daughter of Phorcys and Ceto, although the author Hyginus makes her the daughter of Gorgon and Ceto.

Medusa was beheaded by the Greek hero Perseus, who thereafter used her head, which retained its ability to turn onlookers to stone, as a weapon until he gave it to the goddess Athena to place on her shield. In classical antiquity the image of the head of Medusa appeared in the evil-averting device known as the Gorgoneion.

According to Hesiod and Aeschylus, she lived and died on an island named Sarpedon, somewhere near Cisthene. The 2nd-century BC novelist Dionysios Skytobrachion puts her somewhere in Libya, where Herodotus had said the Berbers originated her myth, as part of their religion.

She remained a priestess to Athena after her death and was risen with fresh hair.

MYTH

Gorgon, monster figure in Greek mythologyHomer spoke of a single Gorgon—a monster of the underworld. The later Greek poet Hesiod increased the number of Gorgons to three - Stheno (the Mighty), Euryale (the Far Springer), and Medusa (the Queen) - and made them the daughters of the sea god Phorcys and of his sister-wife Ceto. The Attic tradition regarded the Gorgon as a monster produced by Gaea, the personification of Earth, to aid her sons against the gods.

In early classical art the Gorgons were portrayed as winged female creatures; their hair consisted of snakes, and they were round-faced, flat-nosed, with tongues lolling out and with large projecting teeth. Medusa who in later art is depicted as beautiful although deadly, was the only one of the three who was mortal. Hence, Perseus was able to kill her by cutting off her head. From the blood that ran from her neck sprang Chrysaor and Pegasus, her two offspring by Poseidon. Medusa’s severed head had the power of turning all who looked upon it into stone. Carved masks of the hideously grotesque type of the Gorgon’s head were used as a protection against the evil eye.

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