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One of the most popular monsters of Greek mythology, Medusa is best known for having hair made of snakes and for her ability to turn anyone she looked at to stone, literally to petrify.

Initially she was a beautiful maiden with golden hair. She vowed to be celibate her entire life as a priestess of Athena until she was raped by Poseidon inside Athena’s temple. This was seen as a great hubris towards the goddess whose sacred space was polluted. Athena punished her hideously and turned Medusa into a figure of horror.

Even after this cruel punishment, Athena was still not satisfied and decided to help Perseus in his quest for Medusa’s head. Several gods aided Perseus in his quest and he was sent golden winged sandals from Hermes, Hades’ helm of invisibility, a sword from Hephaestus and a mirrored shield from Athena.  Perseus slayed Medusa by viewing her in the reflection of the mirrored shield of Athena. Perseus then beheaded her.

In feminism Medusa is known as a symbol of rage even though she was originally exceedingly beautiful. The Artemis temple in Corfu depicts Medusa in archaic form. She is a symbol of fertility dressed in a belt of intertwined snakes.

Medusa continues to be portrayed in pop culture. She is not only immortalized in stories but also in history. She is immediately recognizable, a classical figure and an exciting symbol of a monster. She is also believed to represent philosophy, beauty, and art.