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Medusa

 

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medusa snake

Description

The gorgon Medusa, unlike her sisters, was a mortal. Born beautiful, Medusa was seduced by Poseidon, disguised as a horse, in one of Athena's temples. Athena became incensed and turned Medusa into a fearsome winged creature. Originally, Medusa was depicted as a horse with wings, then a woman with equine hindquarters and wings on her hair. At a later date, portraits of her reveals that her teeth were transformed into the tusks of a wild boar, her black tongue protuded and became too large for her mouth, her hands became brazen claws and her wings were changed into serpents. Her gaze alone turned men to stone.

  

 

Origin

Medusa was a Gorgon, one of three sisters and daughters of ancient, pre-titan gods, Phorcys and Ceto.

The sisters Sthenno and Euryale were immortal but the third, Medusa, was mortal. All three were so hideous (“not to be approched and not to be described” according to Hesiod) that the mere shock of seeing them would turn anyone to stone. Medusa is called The Gorgon or simply, Gorgon. She is also the “Mistress of the West Gate of Death” because her home lay at the entrance to the Underworld on the side of  the western Ocean. She is the Krone Goddess in her most terrible aspect

 

Story

 

Symbol

Gorgons symbolize the female genitals and the "devouring" female sexuality behind them. The original Gorgoneion may have only been a head. It has been suggested that the body was added for the purpose of enabling Medusa to be killed, not only as a means of explaining the origin of this disembodied terror-head, but also to enact the conflict between man and his fears of a demonic female sexual energy.

 In ancient Greece, ovens and kiln doors were embellished with Gorgon masks to frighten away children who could hurt themselves.

  

Quote

    “The terror of the Medusa is thus a terror of castration that is linked to the sight of something. The hair upon the Medusa's head is frequently represented in works of art in the form of snakes, and these once again are derived from the castration complex. It is a remarkable fact that however frightening they may be in themselves, they nevertheless serve as a mitigation of the horror, for they replace the penis, the absence of which is the cause of the horror. This is a confirmation of the technical rule according to which a multiplication of penis symbols signifies castration.”

    Sigmund Freud

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