Medusa is arguably the most famous monster in Greek mythology! The Gorgon is often portrayed as a winged creature with venomous snakes for hair, and she’s a beast that can turn people into stone! So, with all this in mind, it’s no wonder she’s been featured in numerous films, on flags and throughout history! Make sure you keep on reading to learn 50 facts about the mysterious Gorgon, Medusa.
Fact 1: In Greek mythology, Medusa was a fearsome Gorgon.
- A Gorgon is a type of monster generally described as a “winged human female with living venomous snakes in place of hair”. They also have the power to turn anyone who gazes upon their faces to stone.
Fact 2: Before turning into a monster, Medusa was once a beautiful maiden with long golden locks.
- But after Poseidon raped her in Athena’s temple, the enraged Goddess transformed Medusa’s hair into serpents, and made her face so hideous that anyone unfortunate enough to gaze upon Medusa’s face would immediately turn to stone.
Fact 3: Medusa has made an appearance in the fantasy-drama series ‘Once Upon A Time’.
- “Once Upon a Time” tells the story of a new world, one in which fairy-tale legends and modern life collide.
Fact 4: Legend says than Medusa spent some time wandering in Africa.
- Some say that baby snakes fell from her head here, which is why there are so many snakes in Africa.
Fact 5: Medusa was the daughter of the marine deity, Phorcys.
- Phorcys was a subterranean monster from an archaic world in Greek mythology.
Fact 6: Medusa’s curse made anyone who gazed directly at her face turn into stone.
- However, Perseus found a loophole – but more on this later!
Fact 7: Medusa is also the offspring of Ceto.
- Ceto was Phorcys sister who was also a marine deity.
Fact 8: Perseus slew Medusa while looking at her reflection in a mirror.
- Athena gave Perseus a shield which he used as a mirror and beheaded Medusa as she slept.
Fact 9: After Medusa’s head was cut off, Pegasus emerged from the Gorgon’s severed neck.
- Pegasus is a winged horse that has become one of the most well-known mythological creatures in Greek mythos.
Fact 10: Medusa had 2 Gorgon siblings.
- They were named Stheno, and Euryale.
Fact 11: The severed head of Medusa was often seen to be a symbol of protection.
- It was because her head was placed on Athena’s shield, the Aegis, and Medusa’s blood was revealed to hold the power of both life and death.
Fact 12: Medusa was also seen as a symbol of freedom during the French Revolution.
- Medusa was used as a symbol of the Jacobin movement that was in opposition to “English Liberty”, which was represented by Athena.
Fact 13: Medusa had a child named Chrysaor who sprung to life from her severed neck.
- Chrysaor was the sibling of Pegasus, Medusa’s two sons with Poseidon.
Fact 14: She played minor roles in several films, including two versions of “Clash of the Titans”.
- Both films featured a story that was very loosely based on the Greek myth of Perseus.
Fact 15: In 1964, Medusa starred in a British horror film called “The Gorgon”.
- The films stars Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Barbara Shelley and Richard Pasco, and is directed by Terence Fisher.
Fact 16: Medusa appears on the flag of Sicily.
- The symbol features the head of Medusa surrounded by three bent running legs, and three stalks of wheat.
Fact 17: Dohalice’s coat of arms shows the head of Medusa.
- Dohalice is a village in the Czech Republic.
Fact 18: Many actors have played the role of Medusa over the years.
- In the 2010 film, “Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief”, Uma Thurman played the role of the famous Gorgon.
Fact 19: She has also been depicted in paintings by many well-known artists, including Pablo Picasso, Rubens and Michelangelo.
- Michelangelo created two versions of “Medusa” — one in 1596 and the other in 1597. Both paintings depict the exact moment she was executed by Perseus.
Fact 20: In almost every version of the Medusa myth, it was King Polydectes of Seriphus who sent Perseus on the mission to kill one of the Gorgon sisters.
- Polydectes demanded that Perseus bring him back the head of Medusa, he hoped that Perseus would die on the mission, so that Polydectes could marry Danae (Perseus’ mother) instead.
Fact 21: In one episode of “‘Conan the Adventurer”, Medusa was portrayed as a man instead of a woman.
- “Conan the Adventurer” is an animated television series adaptation of “Conan the Barbarian”, the literary character created by Robert E. Howard in the 1930s.
Fact 22: In the game “Dungeons and Dragons”, the Medusae is a monstrous species.
- A ‘Medusa’ is covered in scales, has a writhing mass of serpents growing from its scalp and a petrifying gaze.
Fact 23: Medusa also appears in “Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey”.
- In the game, Medusa was apparently a human that had been transformed by the effects of the Apple of Eden.
Fact 24: During the First World War, the French military donned a ceremonial uniform belt that had Medusa’s image engraved on it.
- World War I was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from July 28, 1914 to November 11, 1918.
Fact 25: The Medusa statue became a symbol of feminist rage.
- The sculpture is a re-imagined version of the Medusa myth and was created by Luciano Garbatti. The statue depicts Medusa standing stark naked, holding a severed head in one hand, and a sword on the other.
Fact 26: Her profile was engraved on coins during the reign of Seleucus I Nicator of Syria from 312-280 B.C.
- Seleucus previously served as an infantry general under Alexander the Great and went to establish the Seleucid Empire, over territory in the Near East which Alexander had conquered.
Fact 27: A tepidarium from the Roman era has a mosaic floor with Medusa’s head at the centre.
- A tepidarium was a warm bathroom of the Roman baths that was heated by a hypocaust or underfloor heating system.
Fact 28: In 1554, Benvenuto Cellini created a bronze sculpture which he named “Perseus with the Head of Medusa”.
- There is an exquisite, though smaller scale, bronze copy of the Perseus displayed outside The Ringling Museum in Sarasota, Florida.
Fact 29: Another statue of the Greek hero and the beheaded Gorgon, “Perseus and Medusa” was created by Hubert Gerhard in 1590.
- The elaborate sculpture was part of a bronze fountain that is in the palace of the Duke of Bavaria, Wilhelm V.
Fact 30: The Temple of Artemis in Corfu, Greece, features a pediment that depicts Medusa in a formulaic fashion.
- She appears together with her sons, Pegasus and Chrysaor despite the fact that they were born after her death.
Fact 31: In 1980, British band UB40 released a song entitled “ Madame Medusa”.
- The song is a vivid description of Margaret Thatcher’s rise to power depicted in a grotesque style.
Fact 32: Anthrax, an American band, recorded a song titled “Medusa” for their 1985 album, “Spreading the disease”.
- ‘Spreading the Disease’ was released on October 30, 1985, and received widespread acclaim by music critics.
Fact 33: Medusa is believed to represent philosophy, beauty, art, and feminism.
- Her serpent hair also symbolizes rebirth and death.
Fact 34: Alexander the Great had the image of Medusa etched on his breastplate.
- The slain Gorgon was a symbol of protection.
Fact 35: In 1995, Annie Lennox released her second solo album in the UK entitled “Medusa”.
- It entered the UK Albums Chart at number 1, and peaked in the United States at number 11, spending 60 weeks on the Billboard 200 chart.
Fact 36: Medusa was the only mortal amongst the three Gorgon sisters.
- The term “Gorgon” is derived from the Greek word “Gorgos” which means “grim or dreadful”.
Fact 37: According to Greek mythos, Medusa was originally a chaste priestess of Athena.
- But Poseidon saw the beautiful maiden one day and just had to have her, so he broke into the temple and kissed Medusa. This angered Athena and in a fit of rage, she cursed Medusa and exiled her to an island.
Fact 38: One story says that Hercules obtained a lock of Medusa’s hair from Athena.
- Hercules gave the lock of hair to Sterope, the daughter of Cepheus in order to protect the town of Tegea from being attacked.
Fact 39: In the Star Trek episode ‘And The Children Shall Lead On’, the starship USS Enterprise encounters a non-corporeal being called a Gorgon.
- However, the said Gorgon did not come close to resembling the original Medusa.
Fact 40: Perseus gave the severed head of Medusa to Athena.
- Athena then placed the slain gorgon’s head on her shield, the Aegis.
Fact 41: The non-venomous snake called Atractus Medusa is named after Medusa.
- ‘Atractus’ is a genus of colubrid ground snake in the subfamily ‘Dipsadinae’.
Fact 42: A species of venomous pit viper was also named after Medusa.
- ‘Bothriopsis medusa’ is commonly found in Venezuela.
Fact 43: Medusa’s serpent hair also possessed supernatural powers.
- When her hair was exposed, it would cause storms which chased away the foes.
Fact 44: The Fashion empire, Versace has Medusa as its logo.
- Gianni Versace was inspired by the pre-monster Medusa who symbolizes power, strength and beauty. This is clearly depicted in his logo that portrays Medusa with flowing hair instead of snakes.
Fact 45: Chrysaor was the brother of the winged horse Pegasus.
- Chrysaor and Pegasus were the sons of Medusa and the god, Poseidon.
Fact 46: In 1976, Elana Dykewomon published the book “They will know me by my teeth” that had a drawing of a Gorgon on its cover.
- The book was a collection of lesbian stories and poems.
Fact 47: Perseus, Medusa’s slayer, was the son of Zeus and Danaë, the daughter of Acrisius of Argos.
- Zeus is the Olympian god of the sky and the thunder and, consequently, the chief figure in Greek mythology.
Fact 48: Medusa played a minor role in Rick Riordan’s “The Lightning Thief”.
- She was later killed by Percy Jackson, the son of Poseidon.
Fact 49: In Margaret Mitchell’s 1936 novel “Gone With The Wind”, the character of Ashley Wilkes wears a lapel pin with the head of Medusa on it.
- Mythological creatures were thought to represent emasculation, and the pin symbolizes the meek and wayward nature of Ashley Wilkes.
Fact 50: Medusa’s son, Chrysaor was a giant who wielded a golden sword.
- Medusa got pregnant after Poseidon raped her on the steps of Athena’s temple. He then vanished after he was done, leaving the broken priestess weak and vulnerable.