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Medusa

Medusa

Medusa, one of three sisters in Greek mythology known as the Gorgons, had a destructive effect upon humans. In many myths, she appeared as a horribly ugly woman with hair made of snakes, although occasionally she was described as being beautiful. In


* See Names and Places at the end of this volume for further information.

both forms, Medusa's appearance was deadly: any person who gazed directly at her would turn to stone.

Although the two other Gorgons were immortal, Medusa was not. One of the best-known legends about her tells of how the Greek hero Perseus killed her. Perseus and his mother, Danaë, lived on the island of Seriphos, which was ruled by King Polydectes. The king wanted to marry Danaë, but Perseus opposed the marriage. Polydectes then chose another bride and demanded that all the islanders give him horses as a wedding gift. Perseus, who had no horses, offered to give Polydectes anything else. Because no man had ever survived an encounter with the Gorgons, Polydectes challenged Perseus to bring him the head of Medusa.

With the help of the goddess Athena* and a group of nymphs, Perseus obtained special equipment for his task: a sharpened sickle, a cap that made the wearer invisible, and a pair of winged sandals. He also polished his bronze shield so that he could see Medusa's reflection in it and not gaze directly at her. Wearing the magic cap and following Medusa's reflection in his shield, Perseus crept up on the Gorgons. He cut off Medusa's head in one swipe and put it in a bag. The drops of blood that fell from the head turned into Medusa's two sonsChrysaor and Pegasusby the god Poseidon*.

immortal able to live forever

nymph minor goddess of nature, usually represented as young and beautiful

With the help of the magic sandals, Perseus flew off before the other Gorgons could catch him. When he reached Seriphus, he held up Medusa's head and turned Polydectes to stone. Perseus later gave the head to Athena, who mounted it on her shield.

See also DanaË; Gorgons; Greek Mythology; Nymphs; Pegasus; Perseus.

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Medusa (in Greek mythology)

Medusa (mədōō´sə), in Greek mythology, most famous of the three monstrous Gorgon sisters. She was once a beautiful woman, but she offended Athena, who changed her hair into snakes and made her face so hideous that all who looked at her were turned to stone. When Medusa was with child by Poseidon, Perseus killed her and presented her head to Athena. Chrysaor and Pegasus sprang from her blood when she died. Medusa's head retained its petrifying power even after her death. Because of this power, her image frequently appeared on Greek armor. In some myths Athena used the Medusa head on her aegis.

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Medusa

Medusa the only one of the three Gorgons who was mortal, the sight of her head was so terrible that even after her death anyone who saw it was turned to stone. With the help of the gods, she was killed by Perseus; the winged horses Pegasus and Chrysaor sprang from her blood as it was shed. Her name is used allusively with reference to her snaky hair and stony gaze.

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medusa

medusa (M-) one of the three Gorgons, having snakes for the hair of the head XVI (XIV Meduse); (m-) jellyfish, sea-nettle XVIII. — L. Medūsa — Gr. Médousa.

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Medusa

Me·du·sa / məˈd(y)oōsə; -zə/ Greek Mythol. the only mortal Gorgon, whom Perseus killed by cutting off her head.

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Medusa

Medusa In Greek mythology, one of the three gorgons, until Athena sent Perseus to decapitate her. From the wound sprang Pegasus and Chrysaor, children of Poseidon.

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medusa

medusabowser, browser, carouser, dowser, espouser, Mauser, rouser, trouser, wowser •rabble-rouser •composer, discloser, dozer, exposer, Mendoza, mimosa, opposer, ponderosa, poser, proposer, proser, Rosa, Somoza, Spinoza •bulldozer • Tannhäuser •abuser, accuser, boozer, bruiser, chooser, cruiser, diffuser, infuser, lollapalooza, loser, Marcuse, medusa, mezuzah, misuser, peruser, refuser, snoozer, Sousa, user, yakuza •battlecruiser • buzzer

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