Medusa. Throughout history Medusa has got the bad reputation as an evil woman who turns people into stone with a mere glance.
Her origin story is much more complex than most people realize—in fact most people have never heard Medusa’s origin story at all. I'd like to mention here that there are many different interpretations of her story and I'll be talking of one that is most commonly known and cited.
Medusa was born human and possessed great beauty. Many men lusted for her but out of respect for the goddess Athena she remained pure and would eventually become a priestess of Athenas temple. Every man who saw her asked for her hand in marriage. The sea god Poseidon also fell for her amazing looks but Medusa rejected multiple approaches from Poseidon because if she wished to remain the preistess of Athenas temple she must stay a virgin. Eventually Poseidon decided he would take her by force. Medusa ran to Athenas temple in the hopes that the goddess would offer her protection. There was no protection given that evening and Poseidon had his way with Medusa.
Once Poseidon was finished Athena as the virgin goddess appeared and was incredibly enraged by this defilement of her temple. She decided that she would punish Medusa as punishment against a god like Poseidon was considered unthinkable. According to this version of the myth it’s at this point that Medusa’s beautiful hair becomes a head of snakes and she is cursed with her deadly ability to turn whoever looks upon her to stone.
Word spread of the monster that Medusa had become and many warriors wished to add her head to their list of trophies. All of them failed but Perseus who received many divine gifts from the gods that helped him eventually kill her. Perseus later used Medusas head to aid him in several ventures.
Medusa is probably one of the most misunderstood characters in Greek mythology. She had only the best intentions and placed her trust in the goddess Athena who ultimately failed her and punished her for actions that were beyond her control. Even in death Medusa can be seen as a symbol of good as her head is used as a protective amulet to keep evil away.