Most people in the Western world know little about the mythical Medusa other than the fact that, for her, a bad hair day meant a crown of writhing snakes. She was a Gorgon, one of three sisters who were ghastly, creatures that resembled dragons more than human beings. They were encased in golden scales and had snakes as their hair. Medusa's two sisters were immortal, but Medusa could be killed. The Gorgons were huge, ugly, and their tongues lolled out of their mouths and they showed their deadly teeth that more closely resembled the tusks of exotic creatures rather than anything human. As with any of the ancient Greek myths, there are always a number of permutations and interpretations of the story that lead modern readers to question what the original intent of the story actually had been. However, one thing that is certain in the stories of Medusa is that she serves as a nemesis to humanity, a creature to be conquered and destroyed but also a creature from which great strength and beauty may spring forth.
Who and What was Medusa?.
According to myth, Medusa was renowned for her particular appeal and the beauty of her hair. Supposedly, Neptune was particularly charmed by her, and was supposed to have been sexually intimate with her in the temple of Minerva/Athena. Minerva/Athena was furious over the violation of the sanctity of her temple and she changed the beautiful locks of Medusa into a mass of contorted and intertwined serpents. Medusa's excessive pride or insolence in the face of the divine was ultimately her downfall and something that Minerva/Athena was, by her own honor, obligated to act upon. In another version of the myth, Minerva/Athena retaliated by changing the young woman who had been Medusa into a Gorgon. Her sister Gorgons were determined to protect her from herself since they understood that any mortal who say her, including herself, would be turned into stone by the very act of laying eyes on her.