The Monstrous Femme: The Art of Medusa

Greek mythology created quite the monster. Her once beautiful hair had being turned into snakes, her gaze was to turn people into stone – Medusa was the ultimate monstrous female.

Medusa, in Greek mythology, the most famous of the monster figures known as Gorgons. She was usually represented as a winged female creature having a head of hair consisting of snakes; unlike the Gorgons, she was sometimes represented as very beautiful. Medusa was the only Gorgon who was mortal; hence her slayer, Perseus, was able to kill her by cutting off her head. From the blood that spurted from her neck sprang Chrysaor and Pegasus, her two sons by Poseidon. The severed head, which had the power of turning into stone all who looked upon it, was given to Athena, who placed it in her shield; according to another account, Perseus buried it in the marketplace of Argos.

Source: Encyclopaedia Britannica

It was obvious that painters, sculptors, and poets were to take this hideous creature and immortalise her in their work.

Sylvia Plath wrote her poem Medusa, using her characteristics as an allegory for her own relationship with her Mother.

If we step into the art world, we know that many painters have made Medusa their subject, some depict both her pain and beauty.

There was the 1964 film Gorgon made by Hammer Studios that depicted her characteristics and terrifying demeanour that was to scare horror fans all over the world.

Medusa will always be a curious creature to anyone that comes across her whether in poetry or literature. She is both a monster and an inspiration to those that want to frighten in their peculiar tales. Some will warn you of her. Some will be under her spell and others will be turned to stone.

2 Comments

  1. What a great article! I’m fascinated by Medusa. Thank you for introducing me to ‘The Gorgon’ – I must watch it.

  2. Thank you, the image of Medusa seemed to have followed me around for some time and it kept popping up in unexpected places so it only felt right to explore it.

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