Medusa is one of the best known figures of Greek mythology, one of the three Gorgons who had the power to petrify anyone who met their gaze.
In the most ancient, Medusa and her sisters were depicted as hideous women with gold wings and bronze hands and a mass of hair snakes. Later, in the art, they took on the appearance of beautiful girls, but always with snakes instead of hair. According to Hesiod, they lived in the Western Ocean, near where the Hesperides and the Night also lived. < / p>
According to Ovid, Medusa was originally a beautiful woman, with a splendid hair. Poseidon fell in love with her and, transformed into a sea eagle, kidnapped her, bringing her to a temple consecrated to Athena where she seduced her. The goddess then took her revenge by transforming Medusa's hair into snakes and made anyone who looked directly at her turn to stone. Condemned to live in solitude in a cavernous cave, Medusa will finish the his miserable existence at the hands of the hero Perseus, son of Zeus and Danae.
It is said that he, wearing the winged sandals of the Styx nymphs, the helmet of the invisibility of Hades and the razor-sharp sickle given by Hermes reached his home: with the hand guided by Athena and looking at its reflection in the shield, to avoid being petrified, Perseus managed to behead Medusa. The winged horse Pegasus and the giant Crisaore, the sons that the Gorgon expected from Poseidon, immediately emerged from the wound; the drops of his blood fell to the ground populating the desert of poisonous snakes, from those that fell into the sea the red coral was born .
Perseus brought with him the head of Medusa, who had not lost his power to petrify with his eyes, and used it as a weapon against numerous other opponents and enemies. Finally, the head of Medusa was given by Perseus to Athena who, having accepted it, placed it at the center of her Aegis by merging it with it. His shield, since then, assumed the ability to stone anyone.
Although Medusa is commonly considered a monster, his head was later often used as a protective amulet, in able to ward off evil and do justice to the hero. The image of the head of the Gorgon can in fact be found in numerous Greek and Roman finds such as shields, armor and mosaics.
In much more recent times, the best known image of the head di Medusa belongs to the logo of the Italian fashion company Versace.