|Medusa was a monster to the ancient Greeks, one of the Gorgon sisters and daughter of Phorkys and Keto, the children of Gaea (Earth) and Oceanus (Ocean). She had the face of an ugly woman with snakes instead of hair; anyone who looked into her eyes was turned to stone. |
She was once a fair maiden, a priestess of Athena, and devoted to a life of celibacy; however, after being wooed by Poseidon she forgot her vows and married him. For this offence she was punished by the goddess. Each wavy lock of the beautiful hair that had charmed her husband was changed into a venomous snake; her love-inspiring eyes turned into bloodshot, furious orbs, which excited fear and disgust in the onlooker; whilst her milk-white skin turned a loathsome green.
After a life of misery deliverance came at the hands of Perseus. Medusa was beheaded by the hero Perseus, who used her head as a weapon until he gave it to Athena to place on her shield. In classical antiquity the image of the head of Medusa appeared in an evil-averting device known as the Gorgoneion.
|Medusa's frightening appearance on coins served a propaganda purpose. Warfare was endemic in the classical world, a way of life, and death, as it has been throughout history. Medusa served to both protect and terrify.|