Medusa’s Bad Hair Day

Revenge figures in many monster myths and stories. Magical spells turn human beings who have violated sacred laws or challenged a vengeful god into monsters. The unwelcome, and uninvited, guest at the party curses more than one fairy tale character with a monstrous fate. And sometimes monsters seek revenge on those who scorn them. Revenge figures in the story of Medusa.

Medusa was one of the Gorgons, but unlike her sisters she was mortal. Most versions of her story begin with Medusa as a beautiful, young woman, known for her charm and for her lovely hair. Poseidon pursues her and it’s very hard to turn down a god. In a world-class, bad choice for a romantic liaison, they have sex in the temple of Athena. The goddess, appalled by this violation, transforms Medusa’s beautiful hair into serpents.

A really, really bad hair day!

In other versions of the story, Poseidon rapes Medusa, making her transformation into a monster a terrible case of punishing the victim. Either way, her fame as a monster continued. The Gorgons bodies were covered in an armor made of scales and a mere glance could turn a man to stone — or kill him where he stood. As the only mortal Gorgon, Medusa was a prize monster fit for a hero.

Perseus managed the feat and cut off Medusa’s head. He placed it on the shield of Athena and — even without Medusa’s body — it retained its awesome power in battle. If you’re into scary images, check out Medusa’s head by Caravaggio. She’s clearly horrified and Caravaggio let’s you see her terror.

When looks can kill — there’s usually a monster in the house.



  1. Beth M.

    I’d hate to have Madusa for a date on Valentine’s Day if I was a guy!

    Anyway some of my favorite ancient mythology stories evolve around the hero Perseus and his love Andromeda. A part of that story of course is about him cutting off Madusa’s head causing her more than a bad hair day! Madusa has to be one of the more interesting monsters out there and her story is unique and I believe never replicated in mythology.

    Here’s a fun fact – did you know that the Fashion House of Versace’s image is Madusa! Gianni Versace used the image of Madusa at his private home in Miami and his sister Donatella decided to make Madusa the brand image for the company when she took it over.

  2. Andrea Flory

    Medusa would be a rather interesting monster to write about Candy. Can’t quite imagine how the modern day story would work but I can’t help feeling her story is more tragic than most. How altruistic would you have to be to turn yourself into a hermit for life just so you didn’t accidentally turn someone to stone????