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Medusa 1

0235: Medusa Rondanini, Phidias 440 BC. Glyptothek, München.

Medusa 1, one of the GORGONS, was beheaded by Perseus 1.


Mortal Medusa 1 is one of the three GORGONS, the others being the immortals Stheno and Euryale 1. The GORGONS were snake-haired, had great tusks like swine's, brazen hands, golden wings, and they turned to stone those who beheld them. Otherwise the GORGONS are said to have been a race of warlike women living in Libya, who were defeated by Perseus 1.

The beauty of Medusa 1

Still others affirm that Medusa 1 was a beautiful woman and the hope of many suitors, and that the most beautiful in her was her magnificent hair. However, fair Medusa 1 was ravished in the temple of Athena by Poseidon, and in order to punish this deed, Athena changed the beautiful locks of Medusa 1 into repugnant snakes.

Perseus 1 kills her

Medusa 1 alone was mortal among the GORGONS, which made it possible for Perseus 1 to come after her head. In order to kill her, he beheld the image of Medusa 1 on a brazen shield, so that he would not be turned into a stone for looking at her, and, his hand guided by Athena, he beheaded her.

Her children

When her head was cut off, there sprang from her trunk Pegasus and Chrysaor. Pegasus was a winged horse which opened up a spring on a mountain by striking the rock with its hoof. Bellerophon mounted Pegasus, harnessing him with a bridle with golden cheek-pieces which Athena gave him, when he went to kill the Chimera. Pegasus is said to have leapt forth from the neck of the slain Medusa 1, its mane bespattered with blood. Later, Pegasus flew away, and left the earth and came to heaven, where he brings to Zeus the thunder and lightning.


When Medusa 1 was beheaded, the other GORGONS woke up and pursued Perseus 1, but they could not see him because he was wearing the helmet of Hades. Others tell that Medusa 1 was a queen who reigned in the land around Lake Tritonis in Libya, and that she was assassinated by night when she was encamped with an army against the forces of Perseus 1.

Others with the same name:
Medusa 2 was daughter of King Sthenelus 3 of Mycenae, son of Perseus 1.
Medusa 3 was daughter of King Priam 1.
Medusa 4 was a daughter of King Pelias 1 of Iolcus, the man who sent Jason and the ARGONAUTS to fetch the Golden Fleece in Colchis (Caucasus). 


Parentage (three versions)





Phorcus & Ceto 1


Gorgon & Ceto 1


Poseidon & Gorgon


Phorcus and Ceto 1 are sea-deities, the offspring of Pontus (Sea) and Gaia (Earth). Phorcus is also called son of Oceanus and Tethys.
Gorgon is the offspring of Typhon and Echidna (see BESTIARY, and for the attack of Typhon against Heaven see Zeus).
The same Gorgon as above but in female role.



Chrysaor is said to have been king of Iberia (Spain). He married the Oceanid Callirrhoe 1, and fathered Geryon by her. This Geryon had the body of three men grown together and joined in one at the waist, but parted in three from the flanks and thighs. Heracles 1 took his cattle away and killed him.


For Pegasus see BESTIARY.

Genealogical Charts

Names in this chart: Callirrhoe 1, Ceto 1, Chrysaor, Erythia 2, Gaia, Geryon, Hermes, Medusa 1, Norax, Pegasus, Phorcus, Pontus, Poseidon, Stheno.

Medusa 1. 6412: The Gorgon, about 570 BC. Acropolis Museum, Athens.

Related sections
Perseus 1, Madness
Medusa 1 in GROUPS: GORGONS (in this same page)

Aes.Pro.799; Apd.1.2.6, 2.4.2; Arg.4.1513ff.; Dio.3.52.4; Hes.The.274, 283ff.; Hyg.Fab.151; Hyg.Fab.Pre.; Man.5.22, 5.567; Pau.2.21.5; Pin.Pyth.10.46, 12.10; Prop.3.22.8; QS.5.38,10.195.