30.11.10

Medusa Myths and Legends

Article

Although Medusa became known as was one of the most terrifying inhabitants of the Greek world; so hideous that whoever looked upon her would instantly turn to stone, she was originally a beautiful maiden whose flowing, lustrous hair had the power to even seduce the gods.

Poseidon, the god of the sea, was once so taken by her beauty he decided to ravish her. Unfortunately he committed the act in a temple dedicated to the goddess Athena. Athena’s vengeance was ingeniously cruel. She transformed Medusa into a hideous creature, and her hair into poisonous snakes.

The Grogans

Medusa’s sisters were born, monsters. Together they were known as the Grogans. The first was called Euryale, meaning ‘far roaming’, and the second was Sthenno, meaning ‘forceful’. Medusa, whose name translates as ‘ruler’, was the only mortal of the three.

The Grogans parents were Phorcys and Ceto, who had a reputation for creating monstrous offspring. Ceto gave birth to the Graeae, translated as the ‘grey ones’, who were three old crones called Enyo (horror), Deino (dread) and Pempredo (alarm).

These crones were the guardians of the Grogans, and between them they shared only one eye and one tooth. Phorcy also fathered the three-headed dragon called Ladon, which guarded the entrance to the legendary Garden of the Hesperides.

Phorcy’s and Ceto’s grandchildren didn’t fare much better: Polphemus, the Cyclops, who captured and nearly ate Odysseus’ crew, was the son of Thoosa (Porcys’ daughter) and Poseidon, the god of the sea.

The Legend

The demi-god Perseus was the son of the god Zeus, the ruler of the Olympians, and his mother was a mortal named Danae. When he was only a child, Perseus and his mother were set adrift in a wooden chest, because Danae’s father, King Acrisus, had received a prophecy that one day he’d be slain by his grandchild.

Mother and son were rescued by King Polydectes in Seriphus. King Polydectes however, was attracted by Danae’s beauty, and when Perseus grew older the king sent him on a perilous quest to retrieve the head of Medusa, so he could court Danae without her son’s interference.

On his mission, Perseus visited the Graeae and stole their only eye, to force them into helping him with his quest. They agreed and offered him winged sandals; a satchel in which to carry Medusa’s head, and a magical cap that allowed him to become invisible.

The goddess Athena approved of Perseus’ mission and also gave him a shining shield to assist him. Perseus located Medusa’s palace, which was littered with the statues of warriors who had perished in heir attempts to slay the Grogan.

Wearing his magical cap, Perseus roamed through the palace, looking for Medusa’s reflection in his silver shield. He found her sleeping, cut off her head, and managed to escape the other Grogans by using his invisibility cap.

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