The True Story Behind the Myth

Who was She?

Medusa was once a beautiful young girl in Athens, Greece. Everyone commented on her beauty, comparing her favorably to others, including the powerful goddesses of the land. But all the compliments went to her head, making her arrogant and conceited. A new temple of Athena was recently finished, and Medusa went to pay tribute to her patron Goddess.

Before the Curse:

Don't Look Into the Eyes of Medusa. Digital image. Https:// 2015. Web. 07 Apr. 2016.

What Happened?

Inside the temple, Medusa made disparaging comments about Athena's lack of beauty, saying the artists would have been better served using her as a model for the various paintings, sculptures, and other art decorating the temple. Athena was not in the least pleased by her unfavorable comments, and so she cursed Medusa.

Athena's Temple:

Fletcher, Elizabeth. Reconstruction of the Inner Chamber of the Temple of Athena in Athens. Digital image. Http:// Web. 7 Apr. 2016.

What did she look like after the curse?

Athena's curse stripped away her beauty and transformed her to a hideous monster with a head of snakes. Athena wanted her to be so hideous that any who set eyes on her would be turned to stone by her horrible image, even Medusa herself if she looked at her reflection. Athena hoped her curse against Medusa would set an example for others of the consequences of arrogance and pride.

Other Versions of the Myth...

One alternate version of the myth include 2 sisters of Medusa, born of Phorcys and Ceto. According to this version, Medusa and her sisters were born as monsters, not cursed. Not much else is explained in this version, only that Perseus later killed her.

Another version claims that Medusa was not boasting of her beauty, but that her goddess-like beauty caught the attention of Poseidon, and he attacked her in Athena's temple. Medusa appealed to Athena for help, and Athena transformed her into a monster, so she would no longer be desired by men or gods, thus protecting her.


Although considered a monster no matter which version of the myth is studied, Medusa later became a symbol of protection against evil in Ancient Greece and Rome, appearing in artifacts such as amulets, breastplates of armor, shields, artwork, and more. The tradition continued even into the modern world: over time, Medusa's image has appeared on coins in several countries, and perhaps most recognizably as the logo for the popular fashion company Versace.



Ḏḥwty. "The Legend of Medusa." Ancient Origins. 15 Mar. 2015. Web. 07 Apr. 2016. <>.

Guenther, Leanne. "DLTK's Countries and Cultures - Greek Mythology The Story of Medusa and Athena." The Story of Medusa and Athena. Web. 07 Apr. 2016. <>.