14 Facts About Medusa


In Greek mythology, Medusa, called Gorgo, was one of the three monstrous Gorgons, generally described as winged human females with living venomous snakes in place of hair.

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Medusa was beheaded by the Greek hero Perseus, who then used her head, which retained its ability to turn onlookers to stone, as a weapon until he gave it to the goddess Athena to place on her shield.

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In classical antiquity, the image of the head of Medusa appeared in the evil-averting device known as the Gorgoneion.

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Since Medusa was the only one of the three Gorgons who was mortal, Perseus was able to slay her while looking at the reflection from the mirrored shield he received from Athena.

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Some classical references refer to three Gorgons; Harrison considered that the tripling of Medusa into a trio of sisters was a secondary feature in the myth:.

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Legend of Perseus beheading Medusa means, specifically, that "the Hellenes overran the goddess's chief shrines" and "stripped her priestesses of their Gorgon masks", the latter being apotropaic faces worn to frighten away the profane.

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The terror of Medusa is thus a terror of castration that is linked to the sight of something.

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Medusa's visage has since been adopted by many women as a symbol of female rage; one of the first publications to express this idea was a feminist journal called Women: A Journal of Liberation in their issue one, volume six for 1978.

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Stephen Wilk, author of Medusa: Solving the Mystery of the Gorgon, questioned Medusa's enduring status among the feminist movement.

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Medusa is widely known as a monstrous creature with snakes in her hair whose gaze turns men to stone.

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In so doing, we unravel a familiar narrative thread: In Western culture, strong women have historically been imagined as threats requiring male conquest and control, and Medusa herself has long been the go-to figure for those seeking to demonize female authority.

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Medusa has sometimes appeared as representing notions of scientific determinism and nihilism, especially in contrast with romantic idealism.

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Medusa has been depicted in several works of art, including:.

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Medusa remained a common theme in art in the nineteenth century, when her myth was retold in Thomas Bulfinch's Mythology.

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