Medusa Kasey Moulton

Myth

Medusa wasn't always a snake-haired, ugly woman. She was one of the Gorgon sisters and daughter of Phorkys and Keto, the children of Gaea (Earth) and Oceanus (Ocean). Her sisters were Sthenno and Euryale, and were immortal, whereas Medusa was mortal.

strange looks must run in the family.

Originally, she was a beautiful maiden, and one of the priestesses of Athena. Part of being a priestess was adopting a celibate lifestyle (no boyfriends for her). Medusa followed this for many years, until she met Poseidon, and seemingly forgot her vows. They quickly fell in love, and got married. Athena was not pleased with this turn of events (they had even married in one of her temples!), and put a curse upon the beautiful Medusa.

Athena was the goddess of wisdom, crafts, and war (specifically strategy).

Her hair (which is what had attracted Poseidon's attention in the first place) was turned into dozens of venomous snakes. The beauty that had defined her was gone. Medusa was driven out of her home, and was shunned and dreaded by the rest of the world. In her despair, she became a wanderer, and changed into a character worthy of her outer appearance. For the rest of her life, anyone she looked directly at turned to stone. Some myths say she moved to Africa and tried to cut the snakes off, but they grew back almost instantly. This myth also works to explain why there are so many poisonous snakes in parts of Africa.

At first, only her hair began changed. As Medusa grew more bitter over the cursed inflicted upon her, the rest of her appearance changed as well.

Perseus was a Greek hero sent on a quest to kill Medusa. He was armed with a scythe from Hermes, and a reflective shield from Athena. Perseus used the shield to safely cut off her head, without looking directly at her. Perseus gave her severed head to Athena, who then mounted it on her shield.

Perseus and Medusa's head.

The blood from her head fell into the sea, and from it came Pegasus and Chrysaor. Pegasus was depicted as a white horse with large feathery wings who could fly. Chrysaor was often depicted as a young man, although he eventually went on, became a king, and had some kids with strange deformities (think three heads) because of his mother's blood.

Perseus killed the gorgon Medusa, and then Athena put her severed head on a shield (for safekeeping?). Below, we see Pegasus and Chrysaor, Medusa's children. Their father is supposedly Poseidon, seeing as though they sprang from the water after Medusa's blood hit it.

Poem

The tone within this piece is very cryptic. The scene is very fluid at first, with the speaker moving through a jungle. Everything is very crisp, but there is a sense of unknown. After the line "this is a dead scene forever now" (Bogan 10) , the piece changes abruptly. The tenses change, and words like "ready to" change to "make no" in the specific example of the bell. Everything seems to stop. The bell is also used as a metaphor for the snakes on Medusa's head "--a bell hung ready to strike" (3). Throughout the entire piece, imagery creates a very mysterious tone, especially towards the end when the scene stops. WE can infer that the speaker was turned to stone by Medusa, which results in the freezing of the scene,

LESSONS

The most important message we can pull from the myth of Medusa is to take your promises seriously. If she had abided by her vow, she never would have gotten married and felt Athena's wrath.

Another lesson we can pull from this myth is self-confidence. After the curse was placed, Medusa felt really bad about herself, and let the angry mobs drive her out because of her appearance.

Allusion

The inhuman Medusalith first appeared in the Marvel universe in 1963, and she was absolutely nothing like the deadly gorgon featured prominently throughout Greek mythology. She doesn't count as an allusion.

she shares absolutely nothing with the myth but a name and strange hair.

Fast-forward to 2001, and that has changed quite a lot. A new timeline introduces a new Medusa, who looks a lot more like the one of legend. Her storyline also mirrors the myth quite closely.

This looks more familiar!

Her hair turns people to stone now, and she is feared by the people, much like the myth. Medusalith is also shunned, and left as an outcast. Once a helper of the people, she switches sides, and falls into a more villainous role after society leaves her side.

Synthesis

With a clear understanding of the myth, the poem makes a lot more sense. From what I learned, the poem must have taken place sometime during Medusa's exile. During that time, the people weren't fond of having a snake-headed person running rampant through their town, and often went off in search of her.

The allusion is a bit trickier. Although the original Medusa in the comics was named that, there was nothing else in common and it didn't count as an allusion. The newer one, however, does. The character looks more similar, and shares personality traits (greed, longing) with the monster from Greek mythology.

Overall, the three texts feed off of each other. The context of the poem makes more sense, and the references to Medusa are clearer with more background knowledge on the myth itself. The comic character that alludes to the myth makes sense by itself, but with knowledge of the myth, it is easy to see their connection, through appearance and overall personality.

Although all three parts can stand alone, they can all be better understood by combining them.

Sources

Myth Research

  1. http://www.greekmythology.com/Myths/Creatures/Medusa/medusa.html
  2. http://www.ancient-origins.net/myths-legends-europe/legend-medusa-and-gorgons-002773
  3. Pictures from Wikipedia, various art museums, and greekmythology.com

Allusion

  1. http://marvel.wikia.com/wiki/Medusa
  2. http://comicvine.gamespot.com/medusa/4005-4327/
  3. Pictures from marvel.com and marvel wikia.

Credits:

Created with images by Larisa-K - "forest nature trees"

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