Birthplace: Ancient Greece
Best known as: The snaky-headed monster of Greek mythology
Chief of the Gorgons, Medusa was the serpent-headed monster of Greek mythology whose hideous appearance turned men into stone. Originally a fair maiden, she was violated by Poseidon in a temple of the goddess Athena, and Athena then punished her by transforming her into an ugly monster with snakes for hair. So hideous was she that anyone who gazed on her would turn to stone. Perseus, with the help of the Hermes and Athena, was able to lop off Medusa's head by looking only at her reflection in his shield during his attack. Perseus then put Medusa's still-lethal head in a bag of sorts and carried it along on his other heroic adventures, brandishing it against foes and turning them to stone as needed. He finally returned the prize to Athena, who affixed it to her shield. The blood from Medusa's head was said to have magical powers, and also to be the seed from which Pegasus sprang, as well as the origin of poisonous snakes in Africa.
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