Medusa and the Gorgons
Wednesday, January 11, 2017 2:16:15 PM America/Los_Angeles
With her wings, monstrous face and venomous snakes for hair, Medusa's appearance was so frightening it turned anyone who gazed upon it to stone. The story of Medusa is a chilling one. Greek mythology places her origin somewhere near Lybia as the hideous daughter of Phorcys and Ceto. She is often said to have had two Gorgon sisters, Stheno and Euryale, who were immortal while Medusa was not. Late Greek mythology claims that she was once stunningly beautiful, but she caught the eye of Poseidon and a jealous Athena transformed her into a monster.
The hero Perseus is said to have received help from the gods to succeed in beheading Medusa. Perseus then used her severed head, which remained a powerful weapon, to prevent the forced marriage of his mother, Danae, to King Polydectes of Seriphos by turning the King and his entire court to stone. After defeating the King, Perseus gifted the head to Athena who placed it in her shield.
A Gorgon face, often thought to be Medusa’s, has been used through the ages to form the Gorgoneion. Gorgoneia are meant to provide protection from enemies and can be found everywhere from buildings and mosaics, to coins and jewelry. They are even depicted on the breastplates and shields of Athena and Zeus in ancient artwork.
Descriptions of Medusa and her Gorgon sisters may vary throughout Greek literature, but one thing is certain, the Gorgon face is one of the most recognized in all of Greek mythology and has been used to strike fear into the hearts of enemies for millennia.
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