A Gorgan. The name derives from an ancient Greek word meaning dreadful. It’s an appropriate description for Medusa and her kind. They’re ugly creatures with slithering snakes for hair, who can turn anyone to stone at a glance. A fun topic for #ImmortalMonday.
Medusa the Monster
Not that long ago I was reading a great story based on the idea there was an entire society of creatures like Medusa. This would support the theory that she was born a monster, one of three sisters and, ironically, the only one of them mortal. Medusa’s sisters, Stheno and Euryale were thought to be immortal, but poor Medusa would fall to Perseus’ hand.
All the Gorgan were considered children of the ancient deities Phorcys and his sister Ceto. They were monsters from the very beginning of the old world.
Medusa the Beauty
In more recent versions of Medusa’s tale, she is said to be a ravenous beauty. A maiden that inspired jealousy in many suitors, even the gods. When Poseidon caught site of her, he decided he had to have her. Only she wanted nothing to do with him and ran to Athena’s temple seeking protection from his seduction attempts. Poseidon showed no regard for their surroundings and forced his way upon Medusa anyway. When he got caught raping Medusa in Athena’s temple by the goddesses herself Athena was so enraged she cursed the maiden, Medusa, with the hideous look that turned onlookers into stone. She didn’t blame Poseidon.
It is said that Medusa was impregnated by Poseidon and, when Perseus beheaded her, Pegasus, a winged horse, and Chrysaor, a golden sword-wielding giant, sprang from her body. Hell of a birth, wouldn’t you say?
Medusa gained her immortality through the fame of her myth. Assuming for a moment that the second fable was true, do you think Medusa deserved Athena’s wrath? Or is it clearly a story written by a man at a time when women’s rights had not yet been established?
26 thoughts on “Snakes and Stone, Medusa: Immortal Monday”
I remember watching Clash of the Titans when I was a kid and being thoroughly freaked out by Medusa. Now I laugh remembering a scene from Hocus Pocus when the witches think Satan has married Medusa, mistaking the curlers in her hair for snakes .
I didn’t know about Poseidon and Medusa. What a monster!
Total monster. I was partial to Poseidon before I started learning so much about him. Those gods thought they were entitled to so much. That’s funny about Hocus Pocus. I don’t remember that scene. I might have to watch it again. 🙂
I remember that scene! “Hocus Pocus” is one of my very favorite movies. I need to watch it, too.
Sadly I think that story reflects current thinking in many parts of the world. The rape victim is still blamed, even here in the US. She shouldn’t have worn that, or been there, or looked at him that way. She shouldn’t have been drinking, flirting, or breathing. Cover her up, so that men won’t be driven to violence by the mere sight of her. I wish Medussa’s story was more empowering. Like she got revenge on men the world over who dared to harm people…which I suppose she did, sorta, by turning people to stone. Until she got beheaded of course. I think it would have been more poetic justice if she’d turned another certain male body part to stone instead 😉
Unfortunately, I believe you’re right. Melinda, your idea had me laughing so hard I spit my tea out. 😀 The sad twist to Medusa’s curse/revenge is it kept her from ever experiencing love or friendship from that day forward.
Even the guy thinks it was the guy’s fault. Unfortunately, that attitude of rape is always the woman’s fault exists in places today. Hopefully, all legal systems will, eventually, catch up.
Speaking of Medusa, the story I wrote for the August anthology on Mythology you are submitting to was accepted. It is a tale about Medusa today.
That’s fantastic, Scott! Wayman is a wonderful publisher to be an author for. I remember you mentioning you had written a piece on Medusa and I wondered then if I should tell you I had a piece on her in the IM queue. 😀
As for the legal system, I think it’s trying.
Hey, pop over to my blog tomorrow…you have been nominated for an award!
(after 10pm my time tonight)
Medusa was my favorite character in the old Clash of the Titans movie. I was SO fascinated by everything about her.!
She was a fascinating character, that’s for sure. I loved the way her snakes kept rattling. 😀 Thanks for stopping by, Coleen.
Those Greek Gods were ruthless. No sanctuary anywhere and off with you head if you’ve considered guilty of any charge. I want to be a Greek God.
w/a Jansen Schmidt
LOL. Yes, wouldn’t it be nice to do whatever we please without consequence? Except…I think my conscience might get the better of me. You not feeling that? Alrighty then. 😉 Go for it, girl! I think you’d make a wonderful Greek goddesses. Please remember me and show mercy when you have all that power within your grasp. 😀
OMG! These gods are the worst. They just go around raping and pillaging just because they want something; like powerful toddlers. (Good Lord that’s scary). They get into wars and destroy towns and cities. And do they clean it up? No.
Athena’s actions were no better.
They really saw mortals as insignificant beings. Like insects, I guess.
Wow, I never thought I would be feeling sorry for Medusa. 😉
Toddlers is a wonderful analogy for them! Thank you, Tracey.
Hey, when can we expect to see your book out in print?
January 2014. Then the next two books in the series will follow in April and July. 🙂
Awesome! I’m so excited for you. Will they be steamy? 😀
Thanks, Debra! Yes, they are steamy. They aren’t erotica, but I love a good sex scene. LOL
Oh Medusa. She freaks me out. Always has. I think it’s the snakes, they aren’t my favorite.
I love what Tracey said ~ those gods are like powerful toddlers! It’s so true. They just do what they want and damn the consequences.
Tracey nailed it. Could you imagine having to deal with snakes for hair? Ugh. That would suck. Just sayin’. 😉 She is pretty freaky, though. Athena sure did a number on her.
Medusa didn’t have a chance, did she? I loved Uma Thurman as Medusa in The Lightning Thief. Sadly, we always know how it ends for her.
I was just thinking of Uma Thurman’s portrayal. She did such a fabulous job. Love to hate her, if you know what I mean. She really got a raw deal.
I’ve always wondered if Athena didn’t give Medusa the power to turn men to stone so she can have vengeance, instead of as a punishment. After all, Athena wasn’t known for forgiveness of rapists (or peeping toms). The Medusa/Gorgon mythology is fascinating if you consider the symbology of snakes in some of the older cults (being symbols of rebirth/immortality). Thanks for this post: it got the creative juices flowing like mad and inspired the outline for my next story. 🙂
Hi Jess! Welcome to the blog. That’s one possibility that we can’t overlook. But in giving Medusa the power to turn all things to stone with just one look, Athena cursed Medusa to a sad and lonely life in the process. Doesn’t seem fitting for one who was the victim, does it? Of course, we never know what those Greek gods were thinking. And your right, the snakes are a very fascinating. I love symbology and its interesting how it will pop up over and over again in the old stories. So glad this post got your creative juices flowing. I love it when that happens. 🙂
Thanks for enlightening me on Medusa. I never really knew her story, but always liked her image. Nice post. That’s quite a statue, I’ll have to look it up.
Incidentally, on the Pintrest eye tattoo… NO!
This was fascinating. I have never looked into Medusa’s beginnings before, and always saw her as something that was evil from day one. Who knew she was such a tragic character. This was an awesome post, Debra!
You’re welcome, Laura. The best villains are those that you can feel some kind of sympathy for. Medusa fits the bills.