The Myth of Medusa from Greek Mythology


Medusa from Greek Mythology

Perhaps of of the most famous characters in Greek Mythology is the gorgon known as Medusa.  The snake haired creature that turns you into stone.  In the Greek mythology, Medusa is a creature, a monster.  She is the daughter of Keto and Phorkys. She also had other two siblings namely Sthenno and Euryale.  Among all of the three siblings, Medusa is the only one who is mortal. Whenever people would look straight into her eyes, they will instantly turn into stones.  This would be great for a sculpture garden, but it doesn't really work if you where the person being turned to stone.

The Beautiful Medusa

Medusa wasn't always like this. She once had golden hair, and was a fair and beautiful maiden. Medusa was devoted in celibacy all her life. She lived in Athens, Greece and was a kind and obedient woman when it comes to the Greeks gods and goddesses.   She was a priestess or servant to Athena.  Athens temple consisted of only the prettiest and finest women. However, when Poseidon wooed Medusa, she was seduced and violated by Poseidon.   Even though she did not want the god Poseidon's attention, she still disobeyed her vows, she was punished by Athena in the worst way possible. All the locks of Medusa’s hair were turned into venomous snakes. In addition, her inspiring eyes became bloodshot which when people looks her straight into her eyes, they will turn into stone. Medusa’s milk-white skin became greenish and she became the gorgon monster we all know today.  

The Wrath of Athena

Because of the actions she received the wrath of Athena.  Athena on the other hand did not blame her Uncle and instead blamed Medusa.  Talk about accusing the victim.  In some versions of the myth medusa, leaves for Africa.  She wanders around Africa and as she walks from place to place, the snakes fall out of her head. It is because of this, Africa became the home to the most venomous reptiles.

A Dude Named Perseus

Then came along a strapping lad known as Perseus.  Perseus wanted to win the affection of the King's daughter so he told the king that he would do anything for the princess.  The King was not fond of Perseus and sent hi on a fool errand, to bring back the head of Medusa.  Perseus did kill and behead Medusa.

The Legend of Medusa

Alexander the Great, when he was conquering the known world had a chest plate with the head of Medusa, her ferocity is legendary.  Why is the Medusa myth so popular even today?  It is tough to say.  It seems that her as a monster is what stands out, not really her tragic story.  Again she was the victim of all of this and the Greek attitude seems to be, the gods will be the gods, so it is what it is.  Even in today's day and age, with all of the politically correct lingo, we never have really revisited the tale of Medusa.  It seems she is and will always be a monster.  

The Medusa Painting

I wanted to paint Medusa.  The thing is, I wanted to paint her as a person, not only as the monster.  In the painting of Medusa I show a woman, who is just that a woman.  Since we can safely gaze at her through this painting and not turn into stone, we see someone who still has hints of her beauty and eyes full of sorrow.  Perhaps soon we will know Medusa as a victim and not a monster.