Medusa in Greek mythology is one of the three gorgon sisters: Medusa, Stheno and Evryali. From all three sisters, only Medusa was mortal. Medusa was also known as Gorgo – meaning “wild glance”.
According one version, Medusa was a beautiful priestess in goddess Athena’s temple. God Poseidon saw her, got enchanted by her looks and unable to resist, raped her. After her rape by God Poseidon, Athena got so enraged, that unable to revenge Poseidon about it, transformed beautiful Medusa into a hideous monster with snakes instead of hair. Her looks were so repugnant, that everyone who stared at her was petrified.
Medusa thus became a monster and the target of may warriors, because the one who would manage to kill her and get her head would have the absolute advantage in battles, as her head would still have the power to turn into stone whoever stared at it.
Perseas, a semi-god, managed with Athena’s help to finally kill her. Athena acquired Medusa’s head –the "Gorgonion"- and placed it on her shield in order to empower her shield with the head's lethal powers.
Although in all ancient findings Medusa is depicted as a hideous monster, artists in later centuries started depicting her as a terrifying but beautiful woman with only common point with the ancient version the serpent hair. It is in this latter depiction that Medusa, a myth and a symbol, is still depicted in art, as for instance in the 2010 movie “Clash of the Titans”.
The snake-serpent is a very old, cross-cultural symbol. The meanings cover a wide range, from personifying the evil...