The myth of Medusa and Perseus is for some a metaphor of horror and how it is possible to save oneself from it through art. For others, it represents a female myth, in which an outraged woman becomes a monstrous being. A dangerous image that terrifies and amazes anyone who contemplates it.
There are several versions of the myth of Medusa and Perseus . However, the classic version has it that Medusa was one of the three gorgons, daughters of Forco and Ceto. She was the most beautiful and also the only mortal. Its beauty was such as to arouse the admiration of gods and men.
It is said that Poseidon was so fascinated that he ended up raping her among the marbles of a temple dedicated to Athena. The goddess did not tolerate such desecration and turned Medusa into a hideous monster, like her sisters. He endowed her with bronze hands and sharp fangs. And she turned her beautiful hair into snakes.
In addition, a terrible light shone from his eyes. By then, anyone who looked her in the face would be turned to stone. Becoming pregnant, he exiled her to the edge of the world of the living. From that moment on, he became one of the most feared monsters.
The origin of Perseus
The myth of Medusa and Perseus tells that the king of Argos learned from an oracle that his nephew would kill him. To avoid the fulfillment of the prophecy, he locked his daughter Danae in an underground room completely lined with bronze. However, Zeus fell in love with her and fertilized her by turning into a golden shower that penetrated the room.
A short time later Perseus was born. Her weeping warned her grandfather of what had happened. The king then decided to lock Danae and Perseus in a wooden trunk and throw them into the sea. The two were rescued and taken to an island. Perseus grew up and became a beautiful young man. To avoid his mother’s marriage to a suitor, he promised to kill Medusa.
Athena, because of her old grudge against Medusa, offered to help him, as did Hermes. Both took him to where the Graias lived. The three old women, relatives of Medusa, had only one eye and one tooth. Perseus took advantage of a moment’s distraction to deprive her of her eye and tooth. To get them back, they would have to show him the way to the Nymphs.
The powers of Perseus
The myth of Medusa and Perseus tells that when the brave young man came before the nymphs, they gave him winged sandals, so that he could fly. They also gave him the helmet of Hades, made from the skin of a dog. Anyone who wore it would have become invisible. Finally, they gave him a saddlebag. Hermes, in turn, gave him a sharp scythe and a shining shield.
Thus armed, Perseus went in search of the gorgons. On the way he met several stone statues. They were the bodies of those who, on arriving there, had looked Medusa in the face. He realized that he should be cautious and wait for the right moment.
Once the gorgons fell asleep, Perseus placed the shining shield so that Medusa’s face reflected on it so that she didn’t have to look her in the face. Then he took the scythe and with a single cut beheaded it. From the body of Medusa were born the horse Pegasus and the giant Chrysaore.
The beautiful myth of Medusa and Perseus
As the myth goes, the young hero ever since used the head of Medusa, which had not lost its power, to defeat his enemies. He kept it in his saddlebag and thanks to it he could face monsters and enemies. It was enough to extract the skull of Medusa and, when the others saw it, they turned to stone.
It is said that the myth of Medusa and Perseus is symbolically linked to art. In particular, the shield of Perseus represents an indirect way to deal with horror. And that’s what art does: reflect. It allows us to watch the horror and at the same time prevents us from being paralyzed by it.
Thus the head of Medusa becomes the main weapon of Perseus. This fact too can be seen in symbolic form. It is with art that we are able to face our inner demons and enemies. The head of Medusa, on the other hand, represents the work, the result, the product of creation.