The myths surrounding Medusa

Medusa is a figure from Greek mythology that is shrouded in mystery, fascination, and fear. She is often depicted as a monstrous woman with snakes for hair, and a gaze that could turn people to stone. However, there are many myths surrounding Medusa that are not entirely accurate. In this article, we will explore the myths surrounding Medusa and try to separate fact from fiction.

Myth 1: Medusa was a monster from birth

One of the most common myths surrounding Medusa is that she was born a monster. The myth goes that Medusa was once a beautiful maiden, but was cursed by the goddess Athena, who made her hair turn into snakes and her gaze deadly. However, this is not entirely true.

According to the ancient Greek poet Hesiod, Medusa was one of three sisters, known as the Gorgons. In his work, "Theogony," Hesiod describes Medusa as a mortal woman who was once beautiful, but was cursed by the goddess Athena after she was caught sleeping with Poseidon in Athena's temple. It was Athena who turned Medusa's hair into snakes and made her gaze deadly.

Myth 2: Medusa was the only Gorgon

Another common myth surrounding Medusa is that she was the only Gorgon. This is not true either. According to Greek mythology, Medusa had two sisters, Stheno and Euryale, who were also Gorgons. However, unlike Medusa, Stheno and Euryale were immortal and could not be killed.

Myth 3: Medusa's gaze turned people to stone

Perhaps one of the most well-known myths surrounding Medusa is that her gaze could turn people to stone. This is not entirely true. In some myths, it was Medusa's gaze that turned people to stone, but in others, it was her blood that had the power to turn people to stone.

In the myth of Perseus, for example, it is not Medusa's gaze that turns people to stone, but her decapitated head. Perseus was able to defeat Medusa by cutting off her head while looking at her reflection in his shield, thus avoiding her deadly gaze.

Myth 4: Medusa was a villain

Medusa is often portrayed as a villain in popular culture, but this is not entirely accurate. In some myths, Medusa is a victim, rather than a villain. As we mentioned earlier, in the myth of Perseus, Medusa was slain by the hero, but in other myths, she is depicted as a tragic figure who is hunted down by heroes.

In some versions of the myth, Medusa was cursed by Athena because she was raped by Poseidon, who took advantage of her in Athena's temple. This act of violence against her led to her transformation into a monster.

Myth 5: Medusa's head was used to turn enemies to stone

Another myth surrounding Medusa is that her decapitated head was used as a weapon to turn enemies to stone. This is not entirely true. In some myths, Perseus used Medusa's head to turn his enemies to stone, but in others, he used it as a gift to the goddess Athena, who placed it on her shield.


In conclusion, the myths surrounding Medusa are numerous and complex. While some of them are true, others are not entirely accurate. Medusa was not born a monster, nor was she the only Gorgon. Her gaze did not always turn people to stone, and she was not always a villain. Medusa is a fascinating figure from Greek mythology, and understanding her myths is essential to understanding the ancient Greek world.