The myth of Perseus and Medusa

The myth of Perseus and Medusa is one of the best thriller-like tales in Greek Mythology.

With a promising plot that gets more complicated as the story progresses, this myth has a typical Hollywood-like scenario with the main character not being born yet at the moment when his destiny was determined.

Here, we will present just a short version of the myth of Perseus and Medusa – until the moment when Perseus beheaded Medusa.


Perseus and the Oracle

Acrisius, the king of Argos, was told by the oracle of Delphi that his own grandson would kill him one day. This grandson would be the child of his daughter Danae. Scared of the upcoming future and his destiny, King Acrisius decided to deprive his daughter of any possible intercourse, mating and child bearing, so he built a room beneath the earth and imprisoned Danae there.

However, as the legend says, Zeus came to her in the form of golden rain, pierced through the walls of chamber, and Danae’s body. Hence, Perseus was born. Hearing the news but not believing that Zeus was the father of the newborn, Acrisius let his daughter and grandchild out to the open sea on an ark. They eventually came to the shores of Serifos island, where they were saved and adopted by a local couple, the man being the brother of the king of the island, Polydectes.

When Perseus grew up to a handsome and strong young man, one more time he found himself in the way of one king, this time King Polydectes, who wanted Danae to become his wife. Knowing that he wouldn’t have the woman for himself as long as Perseus was there to protect her, the king made a plan to send Perseus not only far away but also to a dangerous mission. Polydectes told Perseus to bring him the head of the gorgon Medusa.

Perseus and Medusa

Medusa was one of three sisters, the gorgons, but she was the only mortal one. Some versions say all three were born as monsters, but the predominant myths had them as gorgeous maidens. Medusa was so beautiful that Poseidon was crazy about her, but she didn’t care about him; Poseidon turned her and her sisters into monsters with live snakes covering their heads. Medusa kept her beautiful face but everything else was so monstrous. And whoever dared to look into her face ended up being turned into stone.

Perseus thus had a hard task. He asked Athena and Hermes for help and two of them, together with the nymphs, provided winged sandals to fly him to the end of the world where gorgons lived, a cap that made him invisible, a sword and a mirrored shield. The latter was the most important tool Perseus had, since it allowed him to see a reflection of Medusa’s face and to avoid being turned into stone.

medusa-headWhen he cut Medusa’s head off, from the drops of her blood suddenly appeared two offspring: Pegasus, a winged horse, and Chrysaor, a giant or a winged boar. It’s believed that those two were Medusa’s children with Poseidon.

In any case, once he accomplished his task Perseus flew back and escaped Medusa’s sisters who tried to reach him. Later, Perseus used Medusa’s head as a weapon in many occasions until he gave the head to Athena to place it on her shield.

The myth of Perseus and Medusa was one the most powerful inspiration for many artists in the ancient times, but it hasn’t lost its artistic significance to the present day either. Paintings and sculptures of the moment of beheading or Medusa’s portrait itself are famous all over the world. One of the most known art work is the Medusa shield by Caravaggio, painted at the end of the 16th century. It is exposed in the Uffizi museum in Florence. Close by the museum, in the main plaza of Firenze (Florence) there is a sculpture of Perseus.

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  1. I think that this story is one of my favorites. So interesting, and exciting.

    1. I agree! Have you read the Percy Jackson series?

      1. I have, actually and I’m reading Heroes of Olympus

  2. i love this story it is fantastic

  3. i love the story…….

  4. this was a great story

    1. i would have to agree

  5. This is not the real story of how she was turned into this monster.. The real sotry was pretty much
    Posiden found Medusa worshipping in Athena’s temple and ravished her. Athena was angry that her sacred templed was violated and punished medusa by turning her beautiful hair into snakes.

  6. this is an awesome story

  7. Bradley Macdonald says:

    this is so interresting ! <33333

  8. I just love Greek mythology!

  9. Cristiano Ronaldo says:

    i love this story … there is another ending Persesus points the shield in front of Medusa’s eyes and she saw her reflection so she turned to stone

    1. Lionel Messi says:

      This is very interesting you seem like a knowledgable individual. I would like to meet you one day and have a deep conversation about the killing of Medusa. Regards, Lionel

  10. Yo Yo Yolanda says:

    Ummmmm……………………that was a little creepy about Medusa and her Snake head being cut off. Ewwwwww!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. i did a report on Medusa it was pretty fun and exciting because i got to find out a lot about who she was and what Athena did do her hair.. thts kinda freaky lol

  12. Actually, Poseidon didn’t turn Medusa into a gorgon.

    Athena found Medusa and Poseidon having sex in her temple and was outraged that her sacred temple wasn’t so sacred anymore, so Athena turned her into a Gorgon.

    Also, the real story isn’t that exciting. Perseus just goes to the gorgons and finds them sleeping. He cuts off Medusa’s head and flies back with it.

  13. This is a great story. I really liked the picture of Medusa’s head. I hope you have more Greek myth websites I can look on.

  14. It was a good artical but it was Athena that turned Medusa into a Gorgon.:)

  15. It'sAllGreek says:

    Actually, Medusa, who was considered to be the most beautiful woman in Greece, was a virgin priestess for Athena. Poseidon coveted Medusa but she ignored his advances. One day, Poseidon raped Medusa (it was not consensual). Athena was angered that her sacred temple had been violated and that her virgin priestess had had sex (even though it was rape). Athena then cursed Medusa to be an ugly monster, where she spent the rest of her life on an island alone only to be pursued by various men who tried to kill her (for the power of turning anything into stone) until Perseus finally succeeded. Poor Medusa!

    1. well, no. that’s just another version. there is no right or wrong version

  16. James Fraser says:

    Well he use the winged sandals and the directions from the three grey sisters to fly to the island that the gorgons lived upon, and with Hades’ darkness helm he flew into the cave where they slept and quickly sliced Medusa’s head of with the sickle of immense sharpness and stuffed it into the special bag that was given to him by the nymphs.
    As he flew out of the cave the two other gorgons awoke to see the decapitated body of Medusa and cried in distress and flew out to seek the unseen attacker, but Perseus was already gone.

  17. thepowerofimagination says:

    Wow. The power of imagination, huh? Funny how these stories aren’t even true. So who cares what happened, ’cause none of this actually happened.

    1. Brandon Morris says:

      Well I mean yeah. You guys are reading the first four letters correctly right (myth-ology)? lol That’s kind of the point. The same with any religion no one can say for sure. But I mean isn’t that what stories are for? lmao #whysoserious

  18. Love this myth, I read this 4 times and I still haven’t had enough of this

  19. So this is saying that even though Medusa didn’t have feelings for Posidon, she still has sex with him and that’s how the Pegasus and the winged boar were born?

    1. Well it didn’t go into depth but some versions say that her blood fell into the sea foam (Poseidon controls the sea) and that’s when Pegasus and his brother Chrysaor were formed

  20. I remember studying Greek mythology in 8th grade, and In one version of the story, Medusa was the most beautiful girl in her village, and she went into Athena’s temple and began to brag about how she was much more beautiful than Athena, that even Posidon was in love with her. Athena heard and flew down to the temple and cursed her to be a gorgon
    I think its insteresting that there are so many versions of the story that can change depending on where you heard it!!

  21. This Story is the best Greek myth I Have ever heard

  22. This is a great re-telling, the most believeable one.

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