Is Medusa a good or a bad monster


Medusa is like her sisters Stheno and Euryale, one of the three gorgons and a daughter of the sea gods Keto and Phorkys. The representations of the Gorgons are different. However, they are mostly described as vicious, winged virgins with fangs, brazen claws, and a belt of snakes. Medusa was the most beautiful gorgon but was cursed by the angry goddess Athena. Since then she wore snakes for her hair and turned to stone anyone who saw her.

The Medusa myth

The siblings Keto and Phorkys jointly fathered three daughters, the Gorgons. One of them was Medusa, who was the only one of the three sisters to be of a mortal nature. Originally, the Gorgons were considered disfigured and deformed in ancient Greek representations, but were further developed in the late classical period.

Thereafter, Medusa was usually portrayed as a breathtaking, beguiling beauty, in which even the god of the sea can be found Poseidon stunned. One day, however, watched Athena one of the romantic encounters between Medusa and Poseidon, which made her so angry that she cursed the Gorgon and turned it into a monster.

It is this transformation that we associate with Medusa today: Snakes that adorn her head instead of hair, dangerous fangs that gape out of her mouth, skin that resembles scale armor and glowing, sparkling eyes and a tongue that hangs out of her mouth. Furthermore, Medusa was cursed from this point on, as no man could endure this sight and instantly froze to stone when the gorgon caught his eye.

Perseus and Medusa

Perseus is the son of Zeus and Danae. He is one of the most famous heroes in Greek mythology. Danae is the daughter of King Akrisios.

It was prophesied to him that a son of his daughter Danaƫ would be doomed. Since she gave birth to Perseus through a connection with Zeus, Akrisios tries to get rid of Perseus and locks his grandchildren and daughter in a box, which he hands over to the sea. However, with Poseidon's help, they are rescued and stranded on Seriphos Island.

Once there, she finds Diktys, a brother of King Polydektes, and lets them live with him. However, the king soon begins to chase Danae and to court her affection, which is why Perseus, her constant companion, is a thorn in his side. He demands that he bring him the head of Medusa and hopes that Perseus will fail and fall victim to the terrible curse of the Gorgon.

However, Athene gets wind of this plan, who has been enemies with the Gorgon since the transformation, and supports Perseus in his task. She leaves him with a shiny sign that makes it possible to look at someone through the reflection only. Accordingly, Athena shows him a way to look Medusa in the face without immediately freezing to stone.

Perseus and the Graien

Furthermore, she gave him the advice to go to the Graien, who could tell him the whereabouts of Medusa. The Graien, also called the Greyish, were the sisters of the Gorgons. The brother Athenes, Hermes, also equipped Perseus with a diamond sickle, which should help him as a weapon in the fight against the Gorgon.

The king's son sets out on the journey as quickly as possible to look for the Graien. When he finally finds them at a lake in what is now Africa, they are not ready to tell him how to find and kill Medusa. Perseus now began to consume his provisions, whereupon the sisters wanted something. The three demonesses only shared one eye and one tooth, which is why Perseus offered to hold these things while they were to eat.

When the Graien were just about to romp about the food, he blackmailed the siblings and thus puts them under pressure. He says that he will only give them the eye and tooth again when they have given him the information where Medusa and her sisters are. Thereupon the three Graien give in and tell the king's son what he wants to know.

They also send him to the nymphs, who give him three important items: winged sandals to reach the home of the Gorgons, a sack to stow the dangerous Medusa head and a cloak of invisibility to escape the Sisters of Medusa after a successful fight.

Perseus beheads Medusa

Perseus sets off and can quickly reach the goal with the help of the wing shoes. Once there, countless petrified creatures announce that he has achieved his goal and has not been misled by the Graien. Perseus sneaks into the accommodations and sees that Medusa is asleep. With the help of the bronze shield of Athena he can approach her without being damaged and without further ado decapitates her with the sickle he received from Hermes.

When Medusa was cursed by Athena, she was impregnated by Poseidon in the form of a horse. At the moment when the head of the Gorgon broke away from its torso, the winged horse Pegasus and the warlike giant Chrysaor rose from their bleeding wounds.

Perseus takes the head of Medusa, puts it in the Nyhmphensack and thanks to the invisibility cap he can escape the sisters Stheno and Euryale.

The Medusa myth in a nutshell
  • Medusa, Stheno and Euryale are the three Gorgons and the daughters of the sea gods Keto and Phorkys, who are, however, siblings themselves.
  • Originally, the Gorgons were considered disfigured and deformed. In the course of time, however, the image of the three frightful figures has changed.
  • Medusa, the only one of the three siblings to be of a mortal nature, is even ascribed a bewitching beauty that turned men's heads.
  • The sea god Poseidon also fell in love with them, whereupon they were caught making love by Athena. This angry transformed Medusa into a form of horror.
  • Perseus, a hero of Greek mythology, persecuted the Gorgon because of a promise to Polydectes: to protect his mother Danae from the king's advances, he was supposed to steal the head of Medusa.
  • With divine help, Perseus finally managed to get the head of Medusa into his possession. However, his journey did not end with an escape, but led him to the giant Atlas and Andromeda before he was supposed to reach his home.

Mythological themes