It’s Halloween time, and some of us have a particular interest in monsters and dark creatures. Piecing together some of mythology’s greatest villains’ origin stories is a puzzle that can be rejuvenating to the persona of these characters.
For many of us, we know Medusa to be an evil entity with snakes for hair that can turn any on looker to stone. For those of us who are a little more well versed in Medusa’s tale, you may know there is more than just this initial layer of characterization. Medusa was originally a priest of Athena who was cursed for breaking her celibacy. As many tales in mythology, there are multiple interpretations to these stories mainly due to variety of translation. Poseidon, God of the sea falls for Medusa’s beauty and has sex with her not only causing her to break her promise of celibacy but does so in the sacred Temple of Athena. In the great poet Ovid’s translation of this tale, Poseidon violates Medusa and rapes her when taking her virginity. Athena is outraged and like most Greek myths, the gods don’t often hold each other accountable for pissing one another off and instead bully other humans and creatures that were caught in the crossfire.
Stories like these are dark but can feel more relatable to our everyday experiences than the backstories of the hero’s we are told to look up to. Sometimes life is insufferable, and we react in a way that causes us to be the villain of other people’s personal stories, whether intentional or not.
Your interpretation of monsters and villains like Medusa while completely change how you view depictions of them in ancient and modern art.
Is Medusa beautiful?
Is she a victim?
Do you relate to her story?
Two people can look at a depiction of Medusa and feel very differently at the image in front of them. One will see a monster and wonder why artists choose to focus on dark energies and people. The other may see homage to the tale of a woman who was wrongfully punished, and assume the artist wanted to shed light on such a topic. And sometimes the imagery of these creatures just make for cool tattoos…