They were three powerful, winged daemons named Medusa, Sthenno and Euryale. Of the three sisters only Medusa was mortal.

Parents: Phorcys and Ceto
Siblings: The Graeae

An archaic Gorgon, c. 580 BC, as depicted on a pediment from the temple of Artemis in Corfu. Archaeological Museum of Corfu. (c) Dr. K


Medusa was once a beautiful woman who was transformed into a monster, with snakes for hair and a gaze that could turn anyone to stone, by Athena as punishment for lying with Poseidon in her shrine.

King Polydectes of Seriphus once commanded the hero Perseus to fetch her head. He accomplished this with the help of the gods, who equipped him with a reflective shield, a curved sword, winged boots and helm of invisibility. When he fell upon Medusa and decapitated her, two creatures sprang forth from the wound; the winged horse Pegasus and the giant Chrysaor. Perseus fled with the monster’s head in a sack with her two angry sisters chasing close on his heels.

The Medusa’s head central to a Roman mosaic floor in a tepidarium. Museum of Sousse, Tunisia. (c) Ad Meskens

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