Medusa and the Gorgons: The Origins of the Legendary Tale

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The Head of Medusa

Medusa and the Gorgons: The Origins of the Legendary Tale

In the middle is the Gorgon Medusa, an enormous monster about whom snaky locks twist their hissing mouths; her eyes stare malevolently, and under the base of her chin the tail-ends of serpents have tied knots.—Virgil

Most of you reading this had your first acquaintance with the movie “Clash of the Titans” in 1981 or the remake 2010. While both movies show elements of truth concerning the classical Greek stories, it’s all Hollywood, no need for an explanation. To discover the true story of Medusa and the Gorgons, we shall first look at the classical Greek story first.

The Classical Story of Perseus and Medusa

As the story goes, King Acrisius of Argos had one child, a daughter named Danae. Concerned by this, Acrisius traveled to Delphi to consult the oracle. He asked the priestess if he would have a son, and she said no. The priestess did inform the king that his daughter would bear a son. However, the priestess warned Acrisius that the son of Danae would kill him.

Danaë and a shower of gold, representing god Zeus visiting and impregnating Danaë.


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