We all know her as the woman with serpents for hair; a woman who could turn men into stone with a single glance; a woman who was not a woman.
My character for today’s prompt comes from the Metamorphoses by the poet Ovid.
Trigger warning for rape.
Poseidon raped a woman in the temple of Athena. For this, the goddess Athena sought to punish the victim. The woman, who was once extremely beautiful and admired by many, was turned in to a gorgon. Her beautiful hair a nest of vipers and her gaze turned everyone to stone.
Is there not something quite familiar to the tale?
I haven’t read The Metamorphoses entirely nor have I studied it. So my post today is based only what I know of Medusa and even that is very sparse.
In fact, I find it saddening that we don’t even know her real name. All we are told is that she was a beautiful woman as if beauty is enough to convey a woman’s full character. In the beginning I did not understand this tale. I only knew her as the monster – as the beast who lured might men to kill them. I did not know what this meant but once I did, I was angry.
How dare we portray her in the light of an unthinking beast when Medusa was the victim?
Medusa dies at the hand of Perseus who seeks her out and decapitates her in her own home. Medusa died because of a goddess’ anger. Medusa died because of the whims of men.
Give me moment to take this into modern context. What Medusa endured is a situation that many rape victims have experienced. Left to the mercy of desire, and some even to the anger of their family and friends. What part of us was once “beautiful” had turned rotten because of someone’s “20 minutes of action.”
But if I had to believe Athena, then I will believe that our anger is a kind of mercy.
Not for us though. Our anger pushes us forward to fight for justice, for a platform, for changed policies. Our anger saves the women that come after us. Our anger allows for the stories of the minor characters to be flood out.
Some say it was Athena’s mercy that turned her in a gorgon, but where was mercy when Athena supplied the shield to Perseus?
How do I remember Medusa?
Her is what I know of Medusa:
Her name means Guardian or Protectress. She died pregnant with her twins. This is no hero’s story.
A man’s sin will always make us the monster.
I hope this blog post wasn’t too depressing! As soon as I saw that it was for a minor character, I couldn’t help jumping at my chance to talk of Medusa. I feel that she is an underrated character and even though I understand the interpretations her story has, I wanted to take her story and compare it to our society.
Let’s be friends!
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