Medusa Picture

March 2014
Special thanks to Mark Douglas for providing lovely, serpentine resource images, and Mike McAteer.

Medusa is a mythological Greek Gorgon whom many people recognize because of the serpentine “hair” atop her head. In relation to last week’s photo in the series, she is another example of, in my opinion, unjust behavior on Athena’s part. In the story of Medusa, as told in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, she was once a lovely maiden with lovely features, but her hair was the greatest beauty of her form. Her beauty led Poseidon to rape her in Athena’s temple, and thus the goddess decided to punish Medusa by changing the girl’s hair all to writhing snakes.

You may read the story from The Metamorphoses here. Regarding this story, it always baffles me how Athena, the goddess of wisdom and justice, would think it a wise and just decision to punish Medusa, the girl who was raped and powerless against the immortal and mighty god who violated her. Why would it ever be permissible to blame and punish the victim in a crime? (That is a rhetorical question.) Although this is merely a Greek myth, I think there are parallels to the mentality and behaviors in our society today, especially exemplified when boys - because they are not men if they think this way - “justify” their assaults by claiming the girl “asked for it” based on her state of appearance and choice of dress. It should be clarified that clothing types do not equate to sexual invitations. I can see how mixed messages can occur and be misconstrued, but if one could only remember that females are also people and not objects, such confusion would not arise.

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The Myths