This tale is not a happy one. It does not have a happy ending nor does it have a very enjoyable beginning. The details are rather gruesome as well. For Medusa's own beauty led to her downfall. She (unintentionally) brought herself down and became an outcast.
Medusa; the daughter of Phorcys and Ceto, the granddaughter of Goddess of the Earth and God of the Ocean. Her parents are Titans but her sisters and herself are mortal.
Her life was perfect before the curse, you've heard the story...she was beautiful yet selfish. Out of all the women in the land of Athens, she had the glossiest and longest hair, she had the most satiny and flawless skin, she had the prettiest eyes. And she had the most perfect life.
Many men came to court her, asking for her hand in marriage but she turned them all down. She was young and naïve; she didn't know what she wanted. She thought she was too pretty for any of them, that she was too pretty for anyone at all. Medusa's sisters told her she was stuck up but she never believed them.
All the women in Athens were jealous of her. Jealous of Medusa. She thought she was special because each and every one of them envied her. She treated them like the dirt she walked on and they treated her with unquestionable respect. Or at least she thought so…
At the time, Medusa thought that everyone worshipped her and that every man and woman would bow if she asked them to. But after the curse, she realized that they would have rather spit on her.
Her sisters Stheno and Euryale were not as beautiful as Medusa. In fact, they were considered to be ugly. The three of them lived in Athens together as a rather unhappy family. Medusa only regretted not listening to them more often.
One day, Stheno forced Medusa to go to the goddess Athena's temple to pray and ask forgiveness for the selfishness she displayed constantly. Medusa did not want to go nor did she believe she needed to be forgiven for anything. But she was forced and so she went.
When she arrived, thoughts of how much of a better subject she could have been for the sculptures and paintings in the temple filled Medusa's head. For she thought she was much more beautiful than Athena and surely she deserved a temple dedicated to her beauty.
Medusa stayed in the temple the whole day, spending most of her time thinking snide remarks about Athena or insulting her temple. And when night came, Medusa became the only one left in the grand temple.
The god Poseidon had been watching Medusa for quite a while, taking interest in the young, beautiful maiden. Her beauty attracted him and he could not hold his curiosity back. Poseidon ravished Medusa that night against her consent, leaving her marked permanently in a way she would never forget or fix. The only thing a woman could offer her husband was now gone.
Medusa is mortal, remember. She felt the same disgust for herself as any other human did and she felt the pain. She felt destroyed and ugly. Medusa did not think that she was nearly as beautiful as she used to be.
But what else could she do than return home?
She kept what had happened a secret from her sisters and the public. But Athena visited Medusa the next day. She looked furious, her eyes were a dark color that resembled a thunderstorm and her body was shaking in rage. She accused Medusa of violating her temple, saying that Medusa was willing to Poseidon's lust. She was also angry for Medusa thinking she was prettier than the mighty goddess.
Athena announced that Medusa was banished from her sacred city and that she deserved the humiliation she felt. Medusa fought back, exclaiming that Athena was just jealous of her beauty. This argument ruined Medusa's life and she often thought about what would have happened if she had obeyed Athena.
The goddess cast a curse upon Medusa; replacing her long locks with scaly, vicious snakes of all sizes and species, turning her legs into a long snake tail with a sharp talon. Her skin became scaly and translucent, a bit slimy and slippery. Her eyes changed into a color that didn't exist to humans and her nails grew into sharp claws. Medusa felt complete terror at her transformation and cried out when she looked at herself in the mirror. She clawed at her tail, her skin, and her hair in horror.
Stheno and Euryale had been witnessing this exchange and let out screams of terror at the sight of their sister. Medusa met eyes with Stheno and her sister immediately turned to stone, frozen in her position of fear. Euryale screamed again and backed away from Medusa.
Athena had cursed Medusa so that whenever anyone looked her in the eyes they would turn to stone. Medusa began to sob, terrified of herself and what had happened to her. Euryale kept her hands over her eyes and refused to speak to Medusa who pleaded for Athena's forgiveness.
The goddess was unwilling and left the mortal in despair. Medusa ran, or rather, slithered out into the streets. She wanted to leave and banish herself to isolation. For none could look at her face.
People in the streets turned to gaze at the frightening creature that was Medusa and the shock that showed on their faces became permanent as they froze over in stone. Medusa continued to cry and made her way out of the city of Athens.
She hid her hideous self in a cavern, one so deep into the Earth that hot lava flowed beneath the cracked and destroyed floor. Old stone pillars had tumbled into crumbling piles over time and the place was rotting away slowly. But Medusa liked it, it was isolated and she could mourn the loss of her beauty.
But then the soldiers started visiting. The warriors looking for glory. They attempted to kill her, claiming that she was a demon that deserved to be sent back to Hades. Medusa had believed them but her resentment for Athena burned brightly so she fought back, using her power to turn each and every one of them to stone. She hoped that the loss of soldiers from Athens would upset the goddess.
After a few years, Medusa had come close to death more than enough times and decided that she would need to learn how to use a weapon. She chose the bow and arrow, wanting to be ironic in using the weapon of her enemy, Athena.
The bow and arrow became her specialty and she even dared to say out loud that she was better than Athena. But the goddess didn't bother to pay her another visit.
After many years of living in her self-banishment, Medusa came to accept herself and her curse. She welcomed the men that came to slay her. She enjoyed the look of shock, terror, and fear on their stricken faces as she cornered them. She loved how their fleshy skin turned to hard stone in a matter of seconds.
On the last day of Medusa's existence, the son of Poseidon arrived at her cavern. His name was Perseus, a demigod. He came with a group of soldiers and each and every one of them had the intent of slaying her. Medusa wanted to laugh at them and Perseus' faith in himself.
He was the son of the god who had ruined Medusa. How she longed to scratch his sea blue eyes out of his skull and impale the boy's throat with an arrow.
She killed them off one by one, letting Perseus know that she was coming for him. She noticed the particularly strange glow of his sword and shield but she didn't take precautions. Unbeknownst to her, Perseus carried the sword and shield of Athena. Both contained the power to end her.
Medusa attacked Perseus with rage and fury, ready to taste revenge. But she didn't notice that Perseus was watching her reflection in his shield. It wasn't until it was too late that she realized he had the advantage over her. His sharpened sword sliced clean through Medusa's neck, spraying blood everywhere.
Her head rolled off her body and tumbled across the stone floor until stopping. The snakes upon her head were limp and her eyes were staring off into nothing. Her body twitched, making strange, jerky movements before falling off the ledge and into the pool of lava below.
Perseus covered the slain Medusa's head with a bag and returned to Athens. Perseus succeeded in saving his mother with the exchange of Medusa's head and became a hero to the city.
Medusa was forgotten.
Athena claimed the dismembered head and it still rests on her shield today, allowing her to bask in the glory of victory. Medusa had suffered and died, just as Athena had wanted.
Medusa died at her own fault, not on purpose of course. She was disrespectful to the gods and for that, she paid the price. You may say that Medusa was a horrible creature who enjoyed killing her victims which was true, you may say that she deserved to die. But you also cannot deny the broken soul of Medusa either, the broken soul that allowed her to become the monster she was.
So, was the curse a pleasure or imprisonment?