In the middle is the Gorgon Medusa, an enormous monster about whom snaky locks twist their hissing mouths; her eyes stare malevolently, and under the base of her chin the tail-ends of serpents have tied knots.—Virgil
Most of you reading this had your first acquaintance with the movie “Clash of the Titans” in 1981 or the remake 2010. While both movies show elements of truth concerning the classical Greek stories, it’s all Hollywood, no need for an explanation. To discover the true story of Medusa and the Gorgons, we shall first look at the classical Greek story first.
The Classical Story of Perseus and Medusa
As the story goes, King Acrisius of Argos had one child, a daughter named Danae. Concerned by this, Acrisius traveled to Delphi to consult the oracle. He asked the priestess if he would have a son, and she said no. The priestess did inform the king that his daughter would bear a son. However, the priestess warned Acrisius that the son of Danae would kill him.
Danaë and a shower of gold, representing god Zeus visiting and impregnating Danaë.
To prevent this, Acrisius placed his daughter in an underground apartment made of bronze with an open roof. Acrisius, thinking his problem was over, would soon be shocked. As Danae dwells in solitude, Zeus notices the beautiful Danae. Seeing her beauty, Zeus decided to visit Danae in the form of a shower of gold and impregnated her. In due time, a messenger arrived to inform Acrisius that his daughter gave birth to a son. She named the boy Perseus. Acrisius knew that he could not kill the infant for he would feel the wrath of Zeus. Therefore, to get rid of his problem, he placed his daughter and his grandson in a box and set them adrift on the sea.
Danae and son Perseus were set adrift, and landed at Seriphus.
Eventually the chest made its way to the island of Seriphus. An angler by the name of Dictys discovered the chest and opened it to discover the woman and child trapped inside. Dictys decided to take care of the woman and the child, brought them to his home, and accepted them as family, since he and his wife had no children of their own. As time passed, Perseus grew to manhood.
Dictys had a brother, King Polydectes of Seriphus. Polydectes was a cruel king who had eyes for Danae. Danae refused his advances, as she was already the bride of Zeus. Polydectes bullied her, but as time passed, he grew fearful of Perseus, who had grown into a strong and athletic man. To get rid of Perseus, Polydectes talked to him and informed the young man that he was wasting his time on the island. He should leave and see the world and become a hero, since he was the son of Zeus. Perseus, intrigued by this, asked what could he do that would be considered heroic. Polydectes could have named many things, but he wanted to be rid of Perseus and informed the young man that if he wanted to be a hero, that he should kill the Gorgon, Medusa, and bring back her head.
Polydectes explained to Perseus that three sisters known as Gorgons lived in the west. But of the three, Medusa was the most beautiful. He informed Perseus that Medusa had snakes for hair and if you looked upon her, you would surely turn to stone. (That doesn’t sound so beautiful).
This is a free preview of an exclusive article from Ancient Origins PREMIUM.
To enjoy the rest of this article please join us there . When you subscribe, you get immediate and full access to all Premium articles , free eBooks, webinars by expert guests, discounts for online stores, and much more!
- Archaeologists Unearth Marble Head of Medusa at Roman Ruins in Turkey
- The Legend of Medusa and the Gorgons
- The Dreamtime Legend of the Three Sisters and Petrification in Ancient Mythology
History of gorgons: the myth of medusa
Later writers twisted the story of Medusa to suit different messages. In the original story Medusa was transformed into a gorgon by Athena to scare away Poseidon when he was in the middle of raping her. In the variants, either Medusa is turned into a vain bitch who seduces Poseidon and gets comeuppance or. Athena punishes her for being raped (or being too beautiful) by turning her into a Gorgon since she could not very well punish her uncle Poseidon.
Although Topsell falsely conflated the catoblepas and the gorgons, his entry on the gorgon makes mention of the myth of Medusa. His account makes a number of odd departures and conflations: for example he names Medusa as the mother of the gorgons (her own mother?) and conflates the Gorgons with the Grey Sisters. Interestingly, Topsell describes the myth of Perseus and Medusa as an account of a war between Perseus and the Amazons. He killed their queen, Medusa, and the poets demonized them. He claims that the catoblepas is bred in Africa (presumably by the Amazons?), hence the otherwise non-sequitur association.
When Medusa was decapitated, her children by Poseidon were birthed from the stump. These were Pegasus and Chrysaor. When Perseus later flew over the Libyan desert, the blood dripping from her head gave rise to the amphisbaena and the scytale.
As a very old monster in fantasy gaming history, the medusa has accumulated a number of variants.
The "standard" medusa was a humanoid with snakes for hair, sometimes pretty and sometimes not. In Greek myth the gorgons had many monstrous features like brass wings, brass claws, beards, etc. At some point D&D supplements and 3pp introduced their own take on this concept, typically a medusa variant with a name like "legendary medusa," "brazen medusa," "greater medusa," "snake queen," "true gorgon," "stheno" or "euryale." These greater medusae are typically larger and stronger than their sisters and always display extreme mutations such as a serpent tail in place of legs, functional wings and/or brass claws.
In Greek myth the goddess Athena mounted Medusa's head on her shield, creating the Aegis. Seeming based on this concept, some supplements introduced the concept of a severed medusa's head that has been reanimated as a flying monster. It generally has a simple name like "medusa head" or "headsman's medusa."
In Greek myth the gorgons had an unclear gender. Sometimes they were female, other times both male and female. In D&D they were pigeonholed as exclusively female. As I said above, male variants were later introduced. Sometimes they had unique powers, other times they did not. I counted at least three male counterparts: one which was bald and could turn stone to flesh and was virtually infertile (known as a "maedar" or "medusan"), one which was bald and had a venomous gaze, and one which had snake hair and petrifying gaze like the females.
Medusa Through the Ages
Medusa was originally depicted during the Archaic period almost comically. Painted on pottery and sometimes carved into funerary monuments, she was a terrible looking creature with bulging eyes, full beard, and a lolling tongue.
Medusa in Ephesus, Turkey
During the Classical period, the representations of Medusa began to change, and her features were increasingly feminized. She had smoother skin and her lips became shapelier. Classical artists gave her a makeover and a few centuries later, Roman and Hellenistic writers also interpreted her story differently in an attempt to explain her origins.
Artists took note of these changes and featured it in their works, making the images of Medusa more human. However, her fate is sealed and regardless of how many makeovers she has gone through, she still dies at the hand of Perseus.
Medusa was pregnant with Poseidon’s children at the time hence the story goes on to say that when her head was cut off, her two children suddenly popped from her neck. Medusa’s children were called Chrysaor and Pegasus.
The accompanying noise that came with this woke the Gorgons up. They tried to catch Perseus but to no avail. Perseus had on him Hade’s cap of invisibility and Hermes’s winged sandals.
An ancient Greek poet by name Pindar said Athena was so touched by Medusa’s children’s lament that she made the Aulos out of their tears and sorrows. The Aulos is a sad music of double pipe.
Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article.
Medusa, in Greek mythology, the most famous of the monster figures known as Gorgons. She was usually represented as a winged female creature having a head of hair consisting of snakes unlike the Gorgons, she was sometimes represented as very beautiful. Medusa was the only Gorgon who was mortal hence her slayer, Perseus, was able to kill her by cutting off her head. From the blood that spurted from her neck sprang Chrysaor and Pegasus, her two sons by Poseidon. The severed head, which had the power of turning into stone all who looked upon it, was given to Athena, who placed it in her shield according to another account, Perseus buried it in the marketplace of Argos.
Heracles (Hercules) is said to have obtained a lock of Medusa’s hair (which possessed the same powers as the head) from Athena and given it to Sterope, the daughter of Cepheus, as a protection for the town of Tegea against attack when exposed to view, the lock was supposed to bring on a storm, which put the enemy to flight.
In the British writer Iris Murdoch’s novel A Severed Head (1961), the heroine is a Medusa figure.
The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica This article was most recently revised and updated by Adam Augustyn, Managing Editor, Reference Content.
Campbell, Joseph. 1964. Occidental Mythology. New York: Viking Penguin.
Cixous, Hélène. 1976. "The Laugh of Medusa," trans. K. Cohen and P. Cohen. Signs 1(4): 875-893.
Freud, Sigmund. 1953–1974. "The Medusa's Head." In The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud. Vol. 18, ed. and trans. James Strachey et al. London: Hogarth Press.
Garber, Marjorie, and Nancy J. Vickers, eds. 2003. The Medusa Reader. New York: Routledge.
Klindienst Joplin, Patricia. 1984. "The Voice of the Shuttle is Ours." The Stanford Literature Review 1: 25-53.
Kofman, Sarah. 1985. The Enigma of Woman: Woman in Freud's Writings, trans. Catherine Porter. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
Lully, Jean-Baptiste. 2002. Lully: Persée (Les Talens Lyriques). Christophe Rousset, conductor. Paris: Astree.
Pratt, Annis. 1994. Dancing with Goddesses. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Siebers, Tobin. 1983. The Mirror of Medusa. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Vernant, Jean-Pierre. 1991. Mortals and Immortals, trans. T. Curley and F. I. Zeitlin. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Walker, Julia M. 1998. Medusa's Mirrors: Spenser, Shakespeare, Milton, and the Metamorphosis of the Female Self. Newark: University of Delaware Press.
Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.
"Medusa ." Encyclopedia of Sex and Gender: Culture Society History. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Jun. 2021 < https://www.encyclopedia.com > .
"Medusa ." Encyclopedia of Sex and Gender: Culture Society History. . Retrieved June 16, 2021 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/social-sciences/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/medusa
Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).
Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.
FAMILY OF THE GORGONS
[1.1] PHORKYS & KETO (Hesiod Theogony 270, Apollodorus 1.10)
[1.2] PHORKYS (Aeschylus Prometheus Bound 794, Pausanias 2.21.5, Nonnus Dionysiaca 24.270)
[2.1] GORGO & KETO (Hyginus Pref & Fabulae 151)
[1.1] MEDOUSA, EURYALE, STHENNO (Hesiod Theogony 270, Pindar Pythian 12, Apollodorus 2.39, Hyginus Pref, Nonnus Dionysiaca 40.227)
OFFSPRING OF MEDOUSA
[1.1] PEGASOS, KHRYSAOR (by Poseidon) (Hesiod Theogony 278, Apollodorus 2.40, Lycophron 840, Hyginus Pref, Nonnus Dionysiaca 31.13)
Story Of Medusa: A Tale Of European Fear Of Black Women With Spiritual Power, Like The Sibyls
The journey to fully understanding why there has always been a hate born against the African by Europeans and Arabs for centuries, keeps opening our eyes and minds to various possible reasons littered allover history.
As we become more awakened, we realize that cooked up stories and narratives can be used to destroy a people’s reputation, just so that their heritage can be destroyed or stolen without the feeling of guilt bythe general public.
For centuries, the European man has found a way to paint Africans (Dark-colored people) in a bad light, and by so doing, give themselves the reserved right to persecute a genocide and looting, all in the name of bringing Africans to heel, or giving them civilization.
The story of Medusa was created by Greek society to demonize black women, specifically those involved in traditionally African spiritual practices, with the hopes of discouraging race mixing with the genetically dominant melanated masses and maintain white genetic survival.
Have you ever seen a Black Woman so fine and outrageously beautiful, so majestic, so powerful that her presence alone (even just eye contact), can turn you to stone?
That is the power of the Black Woman.
The Black woman is the primordial human, the prime carrier of melanin, the supreme being of the universe and the mother of humanity.
And this is the power of Medusa.
The Greeks, threatened by her beauty, melanin, allure, spiritual presence, charm and genetics, created a mythology (also known as generational propaganda) to prevent the Greek (Caucasian) men from falling prey to her glory and magnetic magnificence. The myth if left unchecked would ultimately become the gateway for genetic annihilation of the melanin recessive people of early Europe.
According to original author of this article on Trudreadz.com, the suspicions about the story of Medusa being of African origin and about African women does not have a direct scholarly reference to prove it, but, if you have any reference you could leave it in the comment section or in the forum.
However, there is prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that Greek Philosophy is stolen Egyptian (African) Philosophy. And that Europe was an absolute wasteland flooded with barbaric cave dwellers until melanated minds brought civilization to them. The entire Greek civilization was founded from knowledge gained while bowing at the feet of African Priests, Magicians, and Kings.
In other words, the “all their sh*t, is our sh*t “phrase is just repurposed to benefit the European.
This can be proven in the works of:
-George G.M. James Stolen Legacy
-John G. Jackson Christianity Before Christ
-John G. Jackson Introduction to African Civilizations
– Martin Bernal Black Athena and other sources.
This is my theory about the origins of the Medusa story.
Mythology is a way extraordinary concept and phenomena that can be explained in a somewhat relatable way. It is not necessarily literal, but rather viewed as a symbol for an idea that is important enough that it should be remembered.
What does Medusa symbolize in Greek mythology?
Medusa symbolizes a hideous, snake-headed, rape victim who not receive mercy not even from the gods.
She is so evil and so menacing to look at that even a glance at her can turn you to stone. In the mythology she used to be beautiful, desired by all who laid eyes on her, but only in the end to become just a target for bounty hunters who want to kill her.
Now if you can, unpackage the white supremacist perspective of this mythology. If you were a Caucasian from a Greek civilization trying to create a story, or mythology that is to be used by future generations with genetic survival amongst the melanated masses as a primary objective, what would you say?
I imagine even the least intellectual the white people in early Greek civilizations were aware of the genetic threat of ‘race mixing’ with melanated people. They knew if they maintained a pattern of interracial relationships at some point, there would no longer be a such thing as ‘white people’.
So for those members of the society who took it upon themselves to implement strategies for the genetic survival of the Caucasian collective, it became a matter of life and death to exterminate any desire within the Caucasian collective to have intercourse with melanated people.
The foreigners, who had little to no value put on their own women, were probably in absolute awe of an African Priestess. To them, the mystic nature of Africans was already mind boggling, but seeing a beautiful African Priestess in a position of supreme confidence and spiritual power was too much to handle.
That they would have no choice but to turn to stone. She was too beautiful to look away from and too powerful to resist. Not only that, but being unaware of the nature of afro-textured hair left them unable to describe locs or dreadlocks as anything other than ‘snakes’.
So if this black woman is a threat to the genetic survival of caucasians then how do you convince all future generations of caucasian males to avoid this black woman by any means or at any cost?
The natural beautiful, spiritual, holistic, and biologically supreme melanated woman becomes the hideous and undesirable monster that if ever was found should be killed before you even look at her.
The rhetoric about black women being ‘hideous and undesirable’ stems from caucasian crafted propaganda such as the stories like Medusa.
This is why the writer thinks that the real story about Medusa was really about creating mythology to deter men (specifically caucasian males) from wanting to reproduce with the melanated woman. In those days, there were relatively few Caucasians in relation to the melanated masses and genetic survival was a major point of focus for early European societies. So, it was extremely important to demonize black women, with hopes of shifting the caucasian global minority into a more dominant position within the exponentially growing, genetically dominant melanated masses. Sadly, it still continues until now.
If black women become ‘undesirable’ by everyone, there would be no more ‘melanated masses’, and eventually all that would remain is melanin deficient descendants of former Caucasus cave dwellers and i believe that was the intent behind the creation of the Medusa story by the Greek society.
PLEASE SHARE THIS SO OTHERS CAN KNOW THIS HISTORY!
Liberty Writers Africa
We are a group of writers and editors who is passionate about African liberation, African history, African-American History, African-American Liberation, and General world history. Our platform is dedicated to reporting the good, bad, and ugly sides of African past, and present conditions. We are dedicated to using our voices to speak out for the oppressed peoples of the world and use our opinions to shape ideologies that will save our people.
Gorgons and the Graeae
Gorgons and the Graeae
The short mythical story of the Gorgons and the Graeae is one of the famous legends that feature in the mythology of ancient civilizations. Discover the history of the ancient Roman and Greek gods and goddesses. Interesting information about the gods and goddesses featuring Gorgons and the Graeae in a short story format. This short story of the Gorgons and the Graeae is easy reading for kids and children who are learning about the history, myths and legends of the ancient Roman and Greek gods. Additional facts and information about the mythology and legends of individual gods and goddesses of these ancient civilizations can be accessed via the following links:
Gorgons and the Graeae
The Story of the Gorgons and the Graeae
The mythical story and history of the Gorgons and the Graeae
by E.M. Berens
The Mythical Story of the Gorgons and the Graeae
The Gorgons, Stheno, Euryale, and Medusa, were the three daughters of Phorcys and Ceto, and were the personification of those benumbing, and, as it were, petrifying sensations, which result from sudden and extreme fear.
They were frightful winged monsters, whose bodies were covered with scales hissing, wriggling snakes clustered round their heads instead of hair their hands were of brass their teeth resembled the tusks of a wild boar and their whole aspect was so appalling, that they are said to have turned into stone all who beheld them.
These terrible sisters were supposed to dwell in that remote and mysterious region in the far West, beyond the sacred stream of Oceanus.
The Gorgons were the servants of Hades, who made use of them to terrify and overawe those shades, doomed to be kept in a constant state of unrest as a punishment for their misdeeds, whilst the Furies, on their part, scourged them with their whips and tortured them incessantly.
Picture of the head of Medusa, the Gorgon, who was slain by the hero Perseus
The most celebrated of the three sisters was Medusa, who alone was mortal. She was originally a golden-haired and very beautiful maiden, who, as a priestess of Athene, was devoted to a life of celibacy but, being wooed by Poseidon, whom she loved in return, she forgot her vows, and became united to him in marriage. For this offence she was punished by the goddess in a most terrible manner. Each wavy lock of the beautiful hair which had so charmed her husband, was changed into a venomous snake her once gentle, love-inspiring eyes now became blood-shot, furious orbs, which excited fear and disgust in the mind of the beholder whilst her former roseate hue and milk-white skin assumed a loathsome greenish tinge. Seeing herself thus transformed into so repulsive an object, Medusa fled from her home, never to return. Wandering about, abhorred, dreaded, and shunned by all the world, she now developed into a character, worthy of her outward appearance. In her despair she fled to Africa, where, as she passed restlessly from place to place, infant snakes dropped from her hair, and thus, according to the belief of the ancients, that country became the hotbed of these venomous reptiles. With the curse of Athene upon her, she turned into stone whomsoever she gazed upon, till at last, after a life of nameless misery, deliverance came to her in the shape of death, at the hands of Perseus. It is well to observe that when the Gorgons are spoken of in the singular, it is Medusa who is alluded to. Medusa was the mother of Pegasus and Chrysaor, father of the three-headed, winged giant Geryones, who was slain by Heracles.
The Mythical Story of the Graeae
The Graeae, who acted as servants to their sisters the Gorgons, were also three in number their names were Pephredo, Enyo, and Dino. In their original conception they were merely personifications of kindly and venerable old age, possessing all its benevolent attributes without its natural infirmities. They were old and gray from their birth, and so they ever remained. In later times, however, they came to be regarded as misshapen females, decrepit, and hideously ugly, having only one eye, one tooth, and one gray wig between them, which they lent to each other, when one of them wished to appear before the world.
When Perseus entered upon his expedition to slay the Medusa, he repaired to the abode of the Graeae, in the far west, to inquire the way to the Gorgons, and on their refusing to give any information, he them of their one eye, tooth, and wig, and did not restore them until he received the necessary directions.
Picture of Perseus with
the Graeae (Gray Witches)
The Myth & History of the Gorgons and the Graeae
The Myth of the Gorgons and the Graeae - the Magical World of Myth & Legend
The story of the Gorgons and the Graeae is one of the stories about the history of ancient gods and goddesses featured in ancient mythology and legends. Such stories serve as a doorway to enter the world of the Ancient Greeks and Romans. The names of so many of the heroes and characters are known today through movies and games but the actual story about such characters are unknown. Reading a myth story about the Gorgons and the Graeae is the easy way to learn about the history and stories of the classics.