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Is Medusa a victim or villain? Show more Show less
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Medusa is a famous figure in Greek mythology, often portrayed as a villain in most media. Her story, however, is much more complex than many are led to believe. Is Medusa really a villain, or is she a victim of her circumstances?

Medusa is not a victim or a villain Show more Show less

Medusa is neither a victim nor a villain. Her transformation is not a curse, but instead a blessing from her patron goddess.
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Athena helped Medusa by transforming her into a "monster"

Medusa was not cursed, she was actually helped by Athena. Her patron goddess gifted her with an ability that would never let Medusa feel powerless again.
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The Argument

Most writers credit Athena with laying a curse on Medusa. However, it could also be the case that Athena was not trying to curse Medusa but instead help her. Athena is a virgin goddess, one who was the patron of Medusa. When Poseidon raped Medusa, she called out to Athena for both forgiveness and guidance. Here is where interpretations differ. Athena's decision to curse Medusa with her petrifying stare would not make sense if Medusa was the victim of rape. Thus, transforming Medusa was not an act of rage, rather, it was an act of protection. [1] Athena could not punish Poseidon for what he did to Medusa. As a result, the goddess did the only thing she could do, which was to protect her former priestess. Giving Medusa the ability to turn people to stone then becomes a mechanism of self-defense than it does anything else. [2] It grants Medusa the power never to feel helpless again when faced with similar situations.

Counter arguments

While it would seem much more rational that Athena was blessing rather than cursing Medusa, it is also possible that Athena cursed Medusa out of jealousy. Even though Medusa sought Athena's counsel, there is still a case for Athena being angry towards Medusa. One of the things that could have fed this anger was jealousy. Medusa originally promised herself to Athena, but her promise to Athena came undone when Poseidon raped her. One of the staples of being an Olympian god's mate was that once claimed, they were bound to be mates forever. [3] Athena could have arguably felt betrayed by Medusa since Poseidon claimed her, even though Medusa promised herself to Athena. In turn, the virgin goddess would feel inclined to lash out in anger against Medusa for this development.

Proponents

Premises

Rejecting the premises

References

  1. http://diaryoftheblackdog.blogspot.com/2017/10/medusa-was-defending-herself.html#:~:text=Athena%20did%20not%20punish%20Medusa,Medusa%20was%20never%20touched%20again.
  2. https://www.vanityfair.com/london/2020/02/nikita-gill-re-examines-the-role-of-women-through-a-fearless-lens-of-modern-feminism
  3. https://www.theodysseyonline.com/horrible-tale-medusa
This page was last edited on Wednesday, 11 Nov 2020 at 15:18 UTC