Medusa and Relations Picture

Medusa is the notorious monster from Greek mythology who [literally!] petrified anyone who looked upon her face. The reason that you haven’t turned to stone just by looking at this painting is because an image (or reflection) of the creature is/was apparently powerless to harm its viewer. Besides which (if you believe the oldskool mythographers) the monster’s been dead for thousands of years, having been polished off by an ancient superhero named Perseus.

Medusa did however, have triplet sisters, namely Sthenno and Euryale, who should still be alive—since the same mythographers, though they offer no reason for this, tell us that the other two sisters, unlike Medusa, were born immortal—presumably with Medusa’s same fatal power. They are depicted flying in the background as their sister Medusa levitates in the fore, heavily pregnant with the twin sons of her cousin the sea-god Poseidon. These twins, at her death, will be born as the winged horse Pegasos and the gigantic triple-bodied sea-monster Khrysaor. One writer, Apollodoros, says that Medusa, Sthenno and Euryale—the three Gorgons, “Terrible Ones,” as they were called—each had bronze, claw-like hands and golden wings, while another writer, Aiskhylos, says that it is the wings which were bronze (but take your pick). The design of her face here is based on ancient Greek artwork (q.v. here>…, depicting a rather different character design from what you’ve seen if you’ve watched either rendition of Clash of the Titans (in which, as it so happens, no Titans actually ever appear).

Medusa’s father Phorkys was an ancient sea-god, who appears here as a rocky water-giant rising from the depths of his own father Pontos, the Sea. All the Astra (Stars) of the Sky were great-nephews of Phorkys, since they were the grandsons of Phorkys’ sister Eurybia. (The Astra’s father, the Titan Astraios, was a son of Eurybia.) The Astra’s appearance here represents a fictitious tradition of Greek mythology, which I thought up while doing this painting: During Titanomakhia, the “Titans’ War,” when Zeus was fighting to overthrow his father Kronos, most of the Titans actually sided with Zeus against their own fathers, Kronos’ brothers. The Stars joined Zeus’ side, but some of the oldest, most powerful Astra, who were jellyfish-shaped, comet-like beings, sided with Kronos, who was, however, eventually defeated together with them.

As Zeus ascended the throne of the universe to become the new king of the gods, he meted out punishments upon all those who had opposed him in the war. While the Astra who sided with Zeus were honoured with positions to shine in the Night Sky forever, the ones who had opposed the now-new king received the most severe punishment: execution. After their death, they were dumped into the waters of their great-grandfather Pontos, the Sea, where they were received by Pontos’ children, one of whom was Phorkys. No one really knows what happened to the bodies thereafter: if they were buried by the Astra’s great-uncle, or if there is any truth to the rumour that Zeus, since then, ran an underground operation using the corpses of these powerful beings to create his lightning-bolts.
Continue Reading: Gorgons