I dig this for a couple of reasons.
First, it’s got great style.
Perhaps more interestingly though, is that it’s a very different tone as far as the direction of aggression. Most people know the Clash of the Titans version where she’s on the hunt for him once he shows up. But let’s face it, Medusa really gets the shaft from destiny overall. She starts out as a priestess in a temple who gets raped by Poseidon and gets cursed for it as if it was all her fault. The result is that she’s basically doomed to live without human contact for eternity. Then she’s hunted down specifically for her head by a demigod whose got all sorts of great toys and backing to get the job done and depicted as some sort of horrible monster for defending her turf from folks out to kill her.
There are some really interesting theories about regarding just what the whole ‘gorgon’ thing was really about from a historical perspective. It’s really quite a tragic tale about the rise of patriarchy and the purge of goddess-centric worshipers. There are also parallels to the Apollo versus Typhon story which is part of the same era. Harsh.
See, even the demystified stories from ancient times are fascinating!
Reblogging for commentary.
I wish there were more nuanced portrayals of Medusa than as just a scary, snake lady.
Not to mention all this shit went down while she was pregnant with twins, the Pegasus and the giant Chrysaor, as a result from the rape. Perseus would mount Pegasus, and use him and Medusa’s head to kill a sea monster, thus winning him a wife, Andromeda. Medusa was cursed by the very goddess she served, Athena, who also gave Perseus the mirrored shield he used to slay her. Raped, betrayed by her god, hunted down like a beast in her own home while she was pregnant, her own children stolen from her and used to glorify and aide her killers and betrayers. And she’s supposed to be the monster?
That’s how Greek men saw the myth. Greek women viewed it as Athena protecting Medusa by giving her the power to make any man who looked at her completely harmless. Her head was used as a symbol to mark women’s shelters in ancient Greece.
Friendly reminder to remember that women have their own vivid lives and cultures and that the stories which are preserved today come through a heavy filter of gender, race, and class biases.
This is interesting (and I completely buy it, because - from the little I’ve learned - it does seem that very often in ancient Greece men and women had different versions of most myths, with the women’s versions usually being the “mysteries”), but is there any explaination for the “Athena gave him the mirrored shield” bit? If Athena gave Medusa a gift to protect herself, why did she then help Perseus slay her?
I’ve heard versions where this is two myths spliced together, with the Perseus bit being added on to try to make it more acceptable to its male audience, but I’d like to hear if there was ever an explaination from the female POV for Perseus.
We don’t know. There are LOTS of contradicting bits in myths, like how Hercules could fight at Troy but also with the Argonauts, and how Athena uses Hermes’ winged sandals to reach Telemachus, and wouldn’t people have known not to trust Medea?
Greek myth is indistinguishable from Greek folklore, so there are thousands of versions and interpretations, which means they often contradict one another. It’s in studying those contradictions that we can piece together the culture. It’s just important to remember that what information survives is a result of what the culture privileged and valued. It’s why the Doctor reads Dickens but not Twilight. In order to understand how women would have seen the myths, we need to look at them from the perspective of Greek women and try to recreate the stories they would have told themselves.
Which is me getting rather hippy-dippy about my degree, but I’d rather an excess of critical thought than people just memorising mythological details and yelling at others on the Internet.
Women can also rewrite or view myths in ways that are just as problematic as traditional male perspectives of myths. Myths hold and shape power, and often construe who has that power in problematizing and falsely binary ways (which is a tangential reason why second wave feminism had a diversity problem). For more on this, read Monique Wittig’s Les Guerilleres. It’s a freaking weird novel, but diving into it sheds a lot of light on mythology as a structure of power.
I can only imagine how many times it took to get this right.
Breakfast Club, 1985
We’re often wrong at predicting who or what will transform us. Encountering certain people, books, music, places or ideas… at just the right time can immediately make our lives happier, richer, more beautiful, resonant or meaningful. When it happens, we feel a kind of instant love for them that is both deep and abiding. Now and then it can be something as trifling as a children’s book, a returned telephone call, or a night at a seaside bar in Mykonos.