She is a tragic Greek character, as she was once a beautiful woman but was turned into an ugly creature by the goddess Athena when Athena punished her for sleeping with Poseidon. Her story ended just as tragically when she met her fate at the hands of Perseus and was beheaded by his sword.

  • Medusa was a type of monster called agorgon, which meant “dreadful” or “grim”.
  • Her name means either “guardian” or “queen”. Euryale’s name can mean either “wide-stepping” or “of the wide briny sea,” and Sthenno means “strength.”
  • Medusa was the mother to two creatures by way of Poseidon and Perseus‘ sword. While Perseus did not know this, his decapitation caused the two creatures to spring from her body. Those creatures were Pegasus, the winged horse, and Khrysaor, a giant armed with a golden sword and whose name literally means “wielder of a golden sword.”
  • Designs based on Medusa’s head were often used as wards. Ornaments featuring this design were known as “Gorgoneion.” Zeus and Athena are the two Olympians most often mentioned as using this specific ornamentation.
Medusa - snake and human part

Physical characteristics

Medusa is a monstrous being that is part snake and part human. While most of her form was female, she also possessed wings, tusks and her hair was a slithering cluster of vipers.

Some designs on pottery and other artworks depict Medusa and her sisters as horrid creatures; younger designs tweaked things a bit, shaping her snakes and form so she appears pleasing to the eye.


There are two major origin stories for the creature known as Medusa among the thre she was the only one who was mortal.

  1. She was one of three creatures, known as gorgons. Each of these gorgons were equally horrific hybrids of woman and snake but had their own name: Euryale, Sthenno and, of course, Medusa.
  2. Ovid’s “Metamorphosis” presents a different take. In this story, Ovid claims that Medusa was a gorgeous human woman. In fact, Medusa was so beautiful that Poseidon, Greek god of the sea, was compelled to show his affections for her while within a temple dedicated to Athena. Athena was so insulted by the act that she punished Medusa with the form synonymous with the name “Medusa.”

While most sources claim that the gorgons were the children of Phorcys and Keto, a pair of primordial sea deities, Hyginus’s poetry indicates that her father was an entity known as “Gorgo,” thus making the three sisters the“gorgons”.

Venomous snakes

powers and abilities

While Medusa’s snakes were never used to attack, they are stated to be venomous. Venomous snakes are known as “vipers” and there are several notable species of viper within Greece.

Even if one of these snakes is only mildly venomous, anyone unlucky enough to be in close range of Medusa and unpetrified would likely be savaged by multiple snakes striking at the same time. Exposure to multiple doses of the same strength of a toxin actually results in an increase to potency in those toxins.

Petrfying gaze: Anyone who dared look directly at Medusawould be turned to stone , petrified in whatever pose they were stuck in -often looks of horror. It should be noted that only looking upon the genuine article caused this response; anyone who stumbled upon a reflected image of this gorgon, even if the mirrowed image were staring directly at him , would remain flesh and blood.

interesing facts

Medusa plays a prominent role in the story of Perseus. Eventually, Perseus returned the shield to Athena, along with Medusa’s head. Athena accepts the offering and places the fearsome head onto her shield, known as the “Aegis.”

Medusa shows up in many video games. The decapitated “Medusa Head” has been a staple of the “Castlevania” video game franchise and is an entire species of monster that flies around areas where precision jumping is required, knocking reckless players backward and possibly into a fatal pit. Some of the games feature a golden variant that can petrify characters in addition to the usual knockback effect from making contact.

One of the stages in the lives of jellyfish is called the “Medusa Stage”. It is during this stage that jellyfish have long tentacles and a hood, in which they certainly resemble the mythical creature in certain ways.

She appears in the movie “Clash of the Titans”, which was released in 1981.

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