The Attic tradition, reproduced in Euripides (Ion), regarded the Gorgon as a monster, produced by Gaia to aid her children, the Titans, against the new Olympian deities. Medusa was the only Gorgon who was mortal; hence her slayer, Perseus, was able to kill her by cutting off her head. We may now think of the legend of her slayer, Perseus, by whom her head was removed and presented to Athene. “She gave me snakes for hair, remade my bones … but they don’t petrify because of that .” As she spoke, her talons sank into my arm, tugged me forward; she smelled like a mausoleum left to the ages. Medusa was a Gorgon: creatures of Greek mythology, and we can choose to subscribe to the legend that she was a winged human with living venomous snakes in place of hair, and anyone who looked at her turned to stone. To the Greeks, Medusa is the leader of an ancient, older matriarchal religion that had to be obliterated; in modern culture, she represents vital sensuality and a power that is threatening to males. The king, sensing that Perseus was an obstacle to pursuing Danae, sends him on the impossible mission to bring back the head of Medusa. Medusa had snakes for hair. He was able to defeat the Gorgon by lopping off her head, which he was able to do by fighting her reflection in his highly polished shield. Her face had a strange ... Braid your hair so it sticks out in all directions. Much later stories claim that each of three Gorgon sisters, Stheno, Euryale, and Medusa, had snakes for hair, and that they had the power to turn anyone who looked at them to stone. "The snake-head Gorgon's offspring, Pegasos (Pegasus)." Those who gazed into her eyes would turn to stone. The Bibliotheca (2.2.6, 2.4.1, 2.4.2) provides a good summary of the Gorgon myth. The Bibliotheca[14] provides a good summary of the Gorgon myth. The other group of sisters is the Graiai, the "old women," Pemphredoo, Enyo, and Deino or Perso, who share one tooth and one eye which they pass between them; the Graiai play a role in Medusa's myth. The nearer he came, the more terrible did the snaky visage and metallic body of the monster grow. While many of us are familiar with the image of the woman with snakes for hair and her stare that could turn a person to stone, few of us, know her story. Snakes writhe on either side of their heads and necks, and the Gorgon on the left has griffin heads growing from the top of her head. Of the three Gorgons in classical Greek mythology, only Medusa is mortal. [3] She also identifies the prototype of the Gorgoneion in Neolithic art motifs, especially in anthropomorphic vases and terracotta masks inlaid with gold.[4]. K. Kris Hirst is an archaeologist with 30 years of field experience. Medusa wandered Africa for some time. Athena's shield also features Medusa's head in the centre with snakes forming a border around it. — J. Campbell (1968)[9][b], While seeking origins others have suggested examination of some similarities to the Babylonian creature, Humbaba, in the Gilgamesh epic. Danaë gave birth to a son, Perseus.Though Danaë managed to hide her son from her father Acrisius for a couple years, he later found out about the existence of his grandson and decided to get rid of him. Gorgons were a popular image in Greek mythology, appearing in the earliest of written records of Ancient Greek religious beliefs such as those of Homer, which may date to as early as 1194–1184 BC. As a result of consorting with Poseidon, she is said to have birthed Pegasus, the winged horse, and Chrysaor, the hero of the golden sword. Her normal representation as a grotesque head, with snakes in her hair is easily connected with the grotesque ... Medusa was a fearsome monster called a Gorgon. Athena, enraged at the desecration of her temple, turned her into a mortal Gorgon. On her death, Medusa's children (fathered by Poseidon) fly out of her neck: Chrysaor, wielder of a golden sword, and Pegasus, the winged horse, who is best known for the myth of Bellerophon. From the blood that spurted from her neck sprang Chrysaor and Pegasus, her two sons by Poseidon. Perseus is said by some to have given the head, which retained the power of turning into stone all who looked upon it, to Athena. He made quick work of her intestines with the blade she brought him. 450–440 BCE, attributed to Polygnotos of Thasos. Legend says while she was there baby snakes dropped from her head and this is why there are plenty of snakes in Africa. The Bibliotheca provides a good summary of the Gorgon myth. Marija Gimbutas even argues that "the Gorgon extends back to at least 6000 BC, as a ceramic mask from the Sesklo culture ...". Snakes are among the most misunderstood creatures on earth, and their stories are intertwined with humans in countless ways. Heracles is said to have obtained a lock of Medusa’s hair (which possessed the same powers as the head) from Athena and to have given it to Sterope, the daughter of Cepheus, as a protection for the town of Tegea against attack. King Polydectes sent Perseus to kill Medusa in hopes of getting him out of the way, while he pursued Perseus's mother, Danae. The name is Greek, being derived from "gorgos" and translating as terrible or dreadful. Perseus swore he would kill the Gorgon but had no idea of how to do it. Pausanias (5.10.4, 8.47.5, many other places), a geographer of the 2nd century AD, supplies details of where and how gorgons were represented in Greek art and architecture. Classical interpretations suggest that Gorgon was slain by Athena, who wore her skin thereafter. Ancient Libya is identified as a possible source of the deity, Neith, who also was a creation deity in Ancient Egypt and, when the Greeks occupied Egypt, they said that Neith was called Athene in Greece. Medusa was a fearsome monster called a Gorgon. Pegasus had been sacred to her because the horse with its moon-shaped hooves figured in the rain-making ceremonies and the installment of sacred kings; his wings were symbolical of a celestial nature, rather than speed. There are two major conflicting stories for Aphrodite's origins: Most sources describe Medusa as the daughter of Phorcys and Ceto, though the author, Cultural depictions of Medusa and Gorgons, F.T. Some believe that these traits are derived from early Greek religious concepts, such as the dragon Delphyne, whose skin was believed to be made of impenetrable scales. Aided by Hermes and Athena, Perseus finds his way to the Graiai and tricks them by stealing their one eye and tooth. Gorgons are humanoids with hideous, broad-headed monsters with wild eyes, lolling tongues, wide mouths with enormous, gnashing teeth, clawed hands. Some of these myths relate that Perseus was armed with a scythe from Hermes and a mirror (or a shield) from Athena. The Gorgoneion was an amulet that bore the head of a Gorgon. This symbol played into her role in the slaying of the Gorgon Medusa, who had snakes for hair. Mythical Creatures: The Monsters from Greek Mythology, The 10 Greatest Heroes of Greek Mythology, The Minotaur: Half Man, Half Bull Monster of Greek Mythology. They are very powerful symbols in mythology, religion, and folklore, and some of these symbols and metaphors continue to influence peoples’ perceptions of snakes … Virgil mentions that the Gorgons lived in the entrance of the Underworld. Leonardo da Vinci did a painting of her using oil on canvas. In some Greek myths, blood taken from the right side of a Gorgon could bring the dead back to life, yet blood taken from the left side was an instantly fatal poison. The Gorgon is the mother goddess who originates from the Assyrian snake demon, as represented by a bearded, snake-brandishing female appearing, for example, on a Luristan bronze. How many snakes each Gorgon had on her head? In Ancient Greece a Gorgoneion (a stone head, engraving, or drawing of a Gorgon face, often with snakes protruding wildly and the tongue sticking out between her fangs) frequently was used as an apotropaic symbol[19] and placed on doors, walls, floors, coins, shields, breastplates, and tombstones in the hopes of warding off evil. Much later stories claim that each of three Gorgon sisters, Stheno, Euryale, and Medusa, had snakes for hair, and that they had the power to turn anyone who looked at them to stone. Two species of snakes contain her name: the venomous pitviper Bothriopsis medusa and the nonvenomous snake called Atractus medusa. According to Ovid,[15] a Roman poet writing in 8 AD, who was noted for accuracy regarding the Greek myths[according to whom? 1285, see pictures below). The Three Gorgons are sisters: Medusa (the Ruler) is a mortal, her immortal sisters are Stheno (the Strong) and Euryale (the Far-Springer). [citation needed]), Some reptilian attributes such as a belt made of snakes and snakes emanating from the head or entwined in the hair, as in the temple of Artemis in Corfu, are symbols likely derived from the guardians closely associated with early Greek religious concepts at the centers such as Delphi where the dragon Delphyne lived and the priestess Pythia delivered oracles. In general, the appearance and death of Medusa are thought to be the symbolic repression of an older matriarchal religion. She is killed by the hero Perseus, who cuts off her head.To the Greeks, Medusa is the leader of an ancient, older matriarchal religion that had to be obliterated; in modern culture, she represents vital sensuality and a power that is threatening to males. The powerful image of the Gorgon was adopted for the classical images and myths of Athena and Zeus, perhaps being worn in continuation of a more ancient religious imagery. Athena was often shown with snakes on the edges of her clothing, or around her feet in later sculptures. Bellerophon masters winged Pegasus and kills the Chimaera. Her head rolled from side to side, the snakes limp. The Gorgon… According to Pseudo-Hyginus the "Gorgo Aix" (Γοργώ Aιξ), daughter of Helios, was killed by Zeus during the Titanomachy. She had the face of a hideous woman, but had poisonous snakes on her head, instead of hair. Also from Assyria is the story of Gilgamesh, whose exploits include taking the head of Humbaba, the terrifying god-appointed Guardian of the Cedar Forest, a creature depicted in art as a monstrous, grimacing head. He went to her island while she was asleep and moved her snakes of hair out of the way and then chopped her head off. The main island was called Cerna. Then Aix became the goat Capra (Greek: Aix), on the left shoulder of the constellation Auriga. she changed that Gorgon's hair to horrid snakes. In Greek mythology Medusa (Greek: Μέδουσα (Médousa), "guardian, protectress") was a monster, a Gorgon, generally described as having the face of a hideous human female with living venomous snakes in place of hair.Gazing directly upon her would turn onlookers to stone. Some of the reptilian attributes associated with the Gorgon are a belt made of snakes, and snakes either emanating from her head, or entangled in her hair. One of the earliest representations is on an electrum stater discovered during excavations at Parium. Perseus replied "here it is" and held it aloft, turning the whole court to stone. Ultimately, he used her against King Polydectes. Athena helped Peseus to kill Medusa because she wanted to wear Medusa's head on her Aegis as a warning to strangers and young women. Her soul also takes a snake-like theme, closely resembling the head of the Gorgon of Greek Legend, Medusa. What creatures grew on Medusa's head? Her Jane Harrison has pointed out, We have already spoken of Medusa and of the powers of her blood to render both life and death. Phorcys is said to have had … That is to say, there occurred in the early thirteenth century B.C. This he gave to Athena. A marble statue 1.35 m high of a Gorgon, dating from the 6th century BC, was found almost intact in 1993, in an ancient public building in Parikia, Paros capital, Greece (Archaeological Museum of Paros no. Terracotta pilike (jar), Attic period, ca. There he walked into the dining hall where his enemies sat, pulled the head out of its bag, and immediately turned each of the men into stone (Hamilton 1942:146-154). The awkward stance of the gorgon, with arms and legs at angles is closely associated with these symbols as well. : The Phorcides was the second of a trilogy of plays describing the story of Perseus. The snake-like head is a symbol of her cunning, a perversion of the matrifocal ancient goddess who the Greeks must destroy. In this regard Gorgoneia are similar to the sometimes grotesque faces on Chinese soldiers’ shields, also used generally as an amulet, a protection against the evil eye. The Greek hero Perseus was the one who beheaded Medusa. From c. 200 B.C. Their frightful aspect turns men to stone. Medusa had hair but then Athena cursed her so now her hair is snakes and if you look in to her eyes then she will turn you into stone. In late myths, the Gorgons were said to be the daughters of two sea deities: Keto, the sea monster, and Phorcys, her brother-husband. An Amazon with her shield bearing the Gorgon head image. Medusa was a monster in Greek mythology, known as a Gorgon. from Humphries translation She was a very lovely one, the hope of many An envious suitor, and of all her … The head of the severed gorgon became a common motif in Roman, Byzantine and Renaissance art . She was the daughter of Phorcys, a God of the sea, and Ceto, a female sea God. Athena's shield also features Medusa's head in the centre with snakes forming a border around it. Medusa’s guts spilled to the deck like a pile of snakes from a barrel of wine. Other sources say that each drop of blood became a snake. She then placed it on the mirrored shield called Aegis and she gave it to Zeus. Writhing snakes were entwining her head in place of hair. Medusa's severed head, upside down or on one cheek, is featured as the base of several columns in the large underground cistern built by Byzantine Emperor Justinian I (527–565 CE). [5] (In some cruder representations, stylized hair or blood flowing under the severed head of the Gorgon has been mistaken for a beard or wings. Her work has appeared in scholarly publications such as Archaeology Online and Science. Her snaky locks led to the use of Medusa's name to refer to jellyfish. For example, the ivory statue of Athena in the Parthenon in Athens had an image of Medusa on her chest. Professor Hainmond assigns the historical King Perseus of Mycenae to a date. The large Gorgon eyes, as well as Athena's "flashing" eyes, are symbols termed "the divine eyes" by Gimbutas (who did not originate the perception); they appear also in Athena's sacred bird, the little owl. [citation needed] Athena gave a vial of the healing blood to Asclepius, which ultimately brought about his demise. Going even further back into history, there is a similar image from the Knossos palace, datable to the 15th century BC. All three of the Gorgon sisters have glaring eyes, huge teeth (sometimes boar's tusks), a protruding tongue, brazen claws, and serpent or octopus locks. She is killed by the hero Perseus, who cuts off her head. [18][15](4.627) He also used the Gorgon against Cetus (when saving Andromeda) and a competing suitor, Phineas, Andromeda's cousin. Perseus could safely cut off Medusa's head without turning to stone by looking only at her reflection in the shield. In these contexts, it protects the dead, guards buildings or tombs, and wards off evil spirits. : Her face had a strange power. In ancient Greek mythology, Medusa is a Gorgon, one of three hideous sisters whose appearance turns men to stone. Henry T. Riley suggests these islands may correspond to Cape Verde.[15]. Metropolitan Museum of Art, Rogers Fund, 1945 (public domain). Aeschylus, Phorcides (lost play) (Greek tragedy C5th B.C.) And to this day, Minerva, to dismay and terrify her foes, wears on her breast the very snakes that she herself had set - as punishment - upon Medusa's head. While descriptions of Gorgons vary and occur in the earliest examples of Greek literature, the term commonly refers to any of three sisters who later were described as having hair made of living, venomous snakes, as well as a horrifying visage that turned those who beheld them to stone. She was made into marble and bronze sculptures. The oldest oracles were said to be protected by serpents and a Gorgon image often was associated with those temples. She was the daughter of Phorcys, a God of the sea, and Ceto, a female sea God. The concept of the Gorgon is at least as old in classical Greek mythology as Perseus and Zeus. Phorcys is said to have had … The powerful image of the Gorgon was adopted for the classical images and myths of Zeus and Athena, perhaps being worn in continuation of a more ancient imagery. When Perseus returned to the court of the king, Polydectes asked if he had the head of Medusa. Its earthly counterpart is a device on the shield of Agamemnon: ... and therein was set as a crown the Gorgon, grim of aspect, glaring terribly, and about her were Terror and Rout.[10](11.35ff). The name derives from the ancient Greek word γοργός gorgós, which means "grim, dreadful", and appears to come from the same root as the Sanskrit: गर्जन, garjana, which is defined as a guttural sound, similar to the growling of a beast,[1] thus possibly originating as an onomatopoeia. Hermes gives him an adamantine (unbreakable) sickle, and he also carries a polished bronze shield. [citation needed]. [17] A primeval Gorgon was sometimes said to be the father of Medusa and her sister Gorgons by the sea Goddess Ceto. Much later stories claim that each of three Gorgon sisters, Stheno, Euryale, and Medusa, had snakes for hair , and that they had the power to turn anyone who looked at them to stone. They all share Medusa's snake-like locks, and her powers to turn men to stone. Medusa had copulated with Poseidon (Roman Neptune) in a temple of Athena after he was aroused by the golden color of Medusa's hair. It is thought to have originally belonged to a temple. Her guts were nailed to her skull as the rest of her body was abandoned to the waters of Poseidon. In one myth reported by the Greek poet Pindar (517–438 BCE), Medusa was a beautiful mortal woman who one day went to Athena's temple to worship. Was removed and presented to Athene was often associated with the Gorgon as well the ancient. Snake cobra cobubra '', and placed her fearsome visage upon it pile. 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