Madeline

English 9
7 December 2011
Reptilian GiftsPrancing around with no care in the world, the reptiles writhe around her head, and her eyes turning anyone who walks in her path to a simple stone figure. This is how we all think of Medusa, the Gorgon in Greek Mythology, the ugly villain, lonely because she is feared by all. But did you know that before Medusa received her lovely reptilian gifts she was a very beautiful woman. So let us go back to the beginning of her story and ask ourselves, what really happened to Medusa?
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Medusa was one of three daughters of the sea gods, Ceto and Phorcys. She was a gorgeous girl, highly known for her shimmering golden ringlets. Unfortunately she caught the eye of one of the big three, Poseidon the ruler of the sea. He brought her to Athena’s temple and simply ‘made love.’(Lesley Bolton, pg 93). Athena, goddess of war and wisdom, was furious about the night in her sacred temple and decided to end the beauty of Medusa, turning her hair to pythons and her eyes altering a person’s appearance to a solid stone figure. Athena made it known that she was much better than Medusa and made sure not a single male could look at her eyes again. Medusa lived at the end of the Earth with her two sisters, Stheno and Euryale, in a place so lonely and dark no sunlight could pass through. The outside was lined with statues of those innocent souls who were convinced by the peer pressure to look in the sisters’ eyes. The Gorgon sisters lived together in a world of their own, always eerie and dark.

There once was a king, King Polydectes, who was down by the water one day when he noticed a large chest floating on the sea near the island of Seriphos. (Joseph Sherman, pg 287). He brought it out of the water and found two people in it named Danae and Perseus, mother and son. He rescued the child and his mother, and brought them up until one day he became fixated with Danae’s beauty. He decided that if he was to marry Danae he would have to rid of the one thing that stood between the King and Danae, Perseus. So one day, the King faked an engagement to another woman, proclaiming anyone who was dedicated to him must bring a gift for the wedding. Knowing Perseus could afford nothing, he acted as though he was offended, and claiming the boy he freely took under his wing had given him nothing in return. Perseus quickly told the king he would bring the king anything he dreamed would one day be his. The king responded with Medusa, he wanted the Gorgon’s head.

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On the quest of Perseus, he was assisted by two major Gods. First, Hermes helped him by allowing Perseus to borrow a pair of winged sandals, an easy and quick getaway if a problem occurred. Athena, still angry about the love between Medusa and Poseidon, handed over a polished silver shield, not yet telling him the significance of a shining shield when trying to kill a Gorgon. Noticing he had no directions to the cave of the Gorgons, he flew to the cave of the Graeae. ‘Three sisters born as old women, never able to enjoy the freshness of youth.” The sisters all shared a single eye and one tooth, quarreling day and night to have possession of the precious items. Living in a deep cave, Perseus took the eye, proclaiming he wouldn’t give it back unless they gave him directions to the Stygian nymphs. Soon enough, the directions came spitting out. The Stygian nymphs, friendly as they were, gave Perseus three gifts, a cap of invisibility, a strong, curved sword, and a magic pouch.

Soon Perseus found himself flying over oceans far to the opposite end of the world, and came upon a fearsome cave, the home of the Gorgons. Lined with rows upon rows of statues, Perseus could hear hundreds of pythons within. Wondering how a shield could be of assistance in the death of Medusa, he realized it could create a powerful reflection of anything nearby, and using it as a mirror, he stepped in. With the cap on his head and the shield in his hand, he finally saw Medusa in the reflection. Focused only on killing the monster, Medusa heard his footsteps and stood up. Serpents spitting and Medusa full of anger, Perseus quickly took the curved sword and sliced straight through her neck. Suddenly, a white winged horse flew from the gorgons head, a magnificent and fearless creature. (Philip Ardagh).The head fell to the ground and Medusa now did no harm.
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Picking up the head, he placed it in the magic pouch, careful not to look in the eyes. He flew back and, although the journey was time-consuming and difficult, he made it back with a wife he rescued on his way. Keeping his promise and working on some unfinished business, he approached the king with the magic pouch. Before the king had time to respond, Perseus pulled out the head, the powerful eyes open, and the man turned to stone. Perseus, Danae, and his wife, Andromeda, flew back to the place of his birth, Argos, living happily for many years.

Medusa, although evil for many years, was just an innocent, beautiful teenage girl. Boasting about her beauty like many girls do, Poseidon is the real reason she became so grotesque, and he never saw her after her transformation. The girl lived the rest of her life, unable to see any male without technically killing them, lonely except for her immortal sisters. Perseus, also an innocent man, was forced to kill the monster, and killed another one, the king, afterwards. Medusa, famous as she was among men before the transformation, was more famous to the world after.

Works Cited
~Bolton, Lesley. The Everything Classical Mythology Book. Avon, MA: Adams Media, 2002. Print.
~Keenan, Sheila. Gods, Goddesses, and Monsters: an Encyclopedia of World Mythology. New York: Scholastic, 2000. Print.
~Peterson, Amy T., and David J. Dunworth. "Mythology in Our Midst- Medusa." World Folklore and Folklife. ABC-CLIO. Web. 10 Dec. 2011.
~Sherman, Joseph A. Mythology for Storytellers: Themes and Tales from around the World. Armonk, NY:Sharpe Reference, 2003. Print.
~Bingham, Jane. "The Adventures of Perseus." Classical Myth: a Treasury of Greek and Roman Legends, Art, and History. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 2008. 51-55. Print.
~Eason, Cassandra. "Fabulous Creatures: The Serpent Goddess in Classical Myth - The Journey from Powerful Mother to Evil Temptress." World Folklore and Folklife. ABC-CLIO, 2009. Web. 12 Dec. 2011.
~EasyBib: Free Bibliography Maker - MLA, APA, Chicago Citation Styles. Web. 12 Dec. 2011.<http://easybib.com>.
~Suther, Judith D. "The Gorgon Medusa." World Folklore and Folklife. ABC-CLIO, 2009. Web. 12 Dec. 2011.
~Ardagh, Philip. "Pegasus~ The Winged Horse." World Book Myths & Legends. Chicago: World Book, 2002. Print.
(Theoi.com)