Medusa is one of the best-known characters in Greek mythology. Her head was crowned with snakes, and one look from her turned people into stone, but her real story was one of violence and abuse.
Stheno, Euryale, and Medusa were three Gorgon sisters (described as monsters). The name Gorgon comes from the word gorgos, which means horrible. These women, daughters of Forcis, the ancient god of the sea, and his partner Ceto, had wings, bronze hands, and huge round heads with pig tusks.
Medusa was not like her sisters because, while Euriale and Esteno were immortal, Medusa was deadly and beautiful. But what happened to her?
Some versions of the story claim that Medusa went from being a beautiful woman into the famous monster, whose eyes sparkled with light that, when you looked at them, they turned you into stone. It was all due to Athena's anger; she was a warrior goddess with the gifts of strategy, wisdom, and ability.
Medusa's beauty dazzled Poseidon, who then seduced her. But when he saw that his interest was not reciprocated, the god of the sea attacked her and raped her inside a temple devoted to Athena, which awakened her anger. After that offense, Athena punished Medusa and turned her into a heartless monster, with snakes instead of hair, and gave her the curse of turning into stone whoever looked at her.
Medusa was exiled and sent to live in the hyperborean lands, where she discovered that she was pregnant after Poseidon's attack. This situation fueled Athena's anger, who immediately asked for Medusa to be killed.
Perseus, son of Zeus and the mortal Danae, was in charge of making Athena's order come true. Wearing a pair of winged sandals given to him by Hermes and a bright shield, he waited for Medusa to fall asleep. With the help of his winged sandals, he hovered over Medusa and cut off her head. When Medusa was decapitated, the giant Crisaor and the winged horse Pegasus came out of her neck; they were the offspring that resulted from Poseidon's rape.
Perseus gave Medusa's head to Athena, who used it as a shield on each and every one of her battles. It is said that the blood spilled after Medusa's decapitation was kept by the gods, because the blood from her left vein was a deadly venom, meanwhile the blood that came from her right vein had some healing properties.
Now that you know the story behind the myths, do you think Medusa was a victim or a monster?