Who Were the Gorgon Sisters of Greek Mythology?
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Most of us know about the tragic story of Medusa, the Gorgon who had a deadly gaze and venomous snakes instead of hair. Medusa began as a young maiden who served Athena and was considered beautiful. After Medusa could no longer serve in Athena’s temple, Athena cursed her to become the ugly Gorgon and then isolated her to a faraway island. Medusa went from being admired to being hunted by the very men who once appreciated her beauty.
What most of don’t realize, however, is that there were other Gorgons that were present in Greek mythology. Although Medusa’s story is by far the most popular, she’s not the only one. Here’s more information about all of the Gorgons:
Definition of a Gorgon
Webster’s Dictionary defines a gorgon as, “an ugly or repulsive woman.” In Medusa’s tale, she is surely portrayed as an ugly woman – but her tale is also tragic since she started off as a beautiful maiden. It was Athena’s curse that transformed her from a beautiful maiden into an ugly hag. However, since this was such a popular theme in Ancient Greece, there were actually other Gorgons, and they were all just as ugly and terrifying as Medusa was, just in different ways.
Three Gorgon Sisters
Although the stories of the Gorgons differ according to who tells them, a common theme is that there are a total of three Gorgon sisters. Medusa, as mentioned above, is one of them. However, there were two others – Stheno and Euryale. All three were the daughters of Phorcys and his sister, Ceto. In the legends that involve all three sisters, they all had a similar appearance with poisonous snakes instead of hair and an ugly appearance. In the stories, Stheno and Euryale were considered immortal and it was their sister, Medusa, who met a tragic end. She was eventually slain by Perseus, who continued to use her head as a weapon, turning his enemies into stone.
Appearance of the Gorgons
Generally, the Gorgons were portrayed as being ugly monsters. Although most tales are in agreement that they had ugly appearances and snakes for hair, there is some variation as what they look like. Despite what people may believe, they actually didn’t have serpant-like bodies. Snakes were a part of their appearance but they had the general form of a woman. They were often described as having elements on their bodies that were animal-like. For instance, some sources describe them as having tusks like boars and also claws.
As part of Medusa’s curse from Athena, she was isolated to a far off island. Before being turned into a Gorgon, she was pursued by men who fought for her attensions. Since she served Athena in her temple, however, she couldn’t act on these impulses. After Athena cursed her, she was pursued in a different way – many of the men who once pursued her now hunted her. Perseus was ultimately the one who ended her tragic life. Her sisters also had tragic existences, but their curse was essentially to live forever as immortals, cursed with their ugly and undesirable appearance.
Categorized in: Greek Mythology
This post was written by Greek Boston