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Medusa's Sorrow
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© 2018 - 2019 MatejCadil
Medusa was originally a beautiful maiden, a virgin priestess of Athena. She was the aspiration of many suitors and of all her beauties none was more admired than her hair; she even boasted that she was prettier than Athena herself. Her incredible beauty attracted even the attention of the god Poseidon. Delighted by that, she let Poseidon into Athena's temple and slept with him on the altar.
Athena was understandably enraged that her priestess not only broke her vows but did it in her temple, so she punished her by taking away what she was most proud of: She
transformed Medusa's beautiful hair to serpents and cursed her so that everyone who gazed upon her face would turn to stone. So she was forced to flee to a desolate island where she lived as a famed monster. Many brave warriors set out to slay her, ending up as sculptural decoration of her abode, until the hero Perseus (with the help of Athena, among others) finally killed her.
So this is my take on Medusa from the Greek mythology, lonely and grieving her curse, approaching more in sorrow than in anger a man who has just met his fate because he tried to slay her.
I think it is a moving story and even if her punishment was deserved (in some versions she didn't even do the nasty thing willingly, but was raped by Poseidon), I see her as a tragic character rather than a villain.

In fact there are many versions of the myth. And the evolution of it is quite interesting: From what I have read, apparently in the oldest version she was just a dreadful primeval chthonic monster with tusks and brazen claws and a face so terrible to behold that the mere sight of it would turn onlookers to stone. But this later evolved to her being originally a beautiful maiden turned as a punishment into a terrible ugly monster and even later she was seen (e.g. in some depictions) as being still beautiful as well as terrifying – cursed by the mere fact that nobody can behold her and live (well, this and the snakes for hair🐍). But then the modern popular culture has apparently reversed that trend, making medusa into a stock monster in films, games, comics etc., the more ugly and terrifying, the better.

Anyway, in the version of the story I prefer, I think having hair turned into serpents is just enough; no need to make her any uglier. This way I think the tragedy of her story is more emphasized.

By the way, I wonder, whence did the popular notion of Medusa having snake tail come? I mean, I like such fantastical half-human creatures (such as centaurs, mermaids and nagas), but in this case I think it is not really necessary. I suspect the Clash of the Titans film might have played a role in it.

And what do you think of Medusa? Do you prefer her being an evil monster or a tragic character? :-)


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Comments (34)
Libra1010's avatar
 "Sisters, what do you think of my latest piece? I call it STONE COLD KILLER."
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MatejCadil's avatar
MatejCadil|Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Indeed! =D
Reply  ·  
SaborsoftheBrave's avatar
SaborsoftheBrave|Hobbyist General Artist
I see her in the same way. It upsets me to think this happened to her.
Reply  ·  
MatejCadil's avatar
MatejCadil|Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Indeed!
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BlueMoonroseDragon's avatar
BlueMoonroseDragon|Student General Artist
This is really cool and I would always felt sad Medusa. She let her vanity and her igo get the best of her and now she has to pay the price.
Reply  ·  
MatejCadil's avatar
MatejCadil|Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thank you so much, I am glad you like the way I portrayed her! :-)
Reply  ·  
BlueMoonroseDragon's avatar
BlueMoonroseDragon|Student General Artist
I really do and personally I really do feel sorry for her. But that's the downside of being vain and having a big ego. it blinds you from being able to see the truth.   
Reply  ·  
DreadLockedCipher's avatar
DreadLockedCipher|Student General Artist
Excellent work on this piece. The expressions are beautiful, perfectly showing fear in the petrified warrior and Medusa's sadness.

Medusa has always been one of my favorite myths, mostly because I feel so sorry for her. I've been researching her for a project, and I've come across many different versions of the legend. It's impressive how much it's changed over the ages.

Honestly, I just wish I could give her a comforting hug, petrification or no. She deserves some comfort after all of the pain that she has been through.
Reply  ·  
MatejCadil's avatar
MatejCadil|Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Indeed, it is very interesting, how many versions of it are there. :-)
Thank you so much for your nice words, I am glad you like the picture. :thanks:
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Jdailey1991's avatar
The tail thing comes from Ray Harryhausen's decision to move away from what he had seen from statues and make her really terrifying.

As for the evolution of the story, have you heard of the youngest trend, one that has Perseus and Medusa as either friends or more so?
Reply  ·  
MatejCadil's avatar
MatejCadil|Hobbyist Traditional Artist
No, I haven't heard about that...
Reply  ·  
MensjeDeZeemeermin's avatar
Very good intensity and pathos.  It's a tough call--you don't know if she rejoiced in her changes. I remember, though, in the original Clash of the Titans feeling sorry for her. She quite rightly looked scared to death even as she fought bravely for her life.
Reply  ·  
MatejCadil's avatar
MatejCadil|Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thank you for your comment. I imagine she certainly wasn't delighted by her changes, she just wanted to be the beautiful maiden she used to be, not a monster turning people to stone. But when men started to seek her with the intention to slay her instead to court her, she was just forced into her new role as a dreaded monster. So after some time, she didn't even bother to hide herself and politely ask visitors from behind a column whether they intend to kill her.
Reply  ·  
MensjeDeZeemeermin's avatar
...with Athena herself gunning for her, and later using her skinned face as a weapon.  
Reply  ·  
annamare's avatar
annamare|Hobbyist Digital Artist
This is truly beautiful and very touching... the version I knew was the one where Poseidon raped her and Athena punished her, which is the most tragic and unjust version! Medusa is so often portrayed as evil that it is very hard to find art like yours, and I love it.
Reply  ·  
MatejCadil's avatar
MatejCadil|Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thank you so much! I have read that version too. As you say, it is the most tragic one; I found it too unjust, so I decided to go with the version where she did commit misdeeds – exceeding vanity and/or (consensual) desecration of the temple – was punished for it (though certainly too harshly) and now regrets it.
Reply  ·  
annamare's avatar
annamare|Hobbyist Digital Artist
Even if she committed misdeeds, I agree the tragedy is there still, for it does not make her an evil person! The regret she shows here makes her very human, and still beautiful. I am so glad you did not portray her as the conventional monster!
Reply  ·  
MatejCadil's avatar
MatejCadil|Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thanks again for your nice words! :-)
Reply  ·  
Jakegothicsnake's avatar
Yeah, I think Clash of the Titans had a hand in popularizing the image of Medusa as having a snake tail in place of legs. Here's an interesting video about it.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tate4X…
Reply  ·  
MatejCadil's avatar
MatejCadil|Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thanks for sharing the video, it is interesting to hear. The Clash of the Titans is of course a great film and these decisions make sense in the context of it, in the story of Perseus, though I prefer those versions of the myth where she is a tragic character rather than just a monster.
Reply  ·  
Sevastianos-Ntzokas's avatar
Sevastianos-Ntzokas|Professional Digital Artist
indeed nice video !
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Supercaptaincoolman's avatar
Always felt sorry for Medusa.
Reply  ·  
MatejCadil's avatar
MatejCadil|Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Indeed. Thanks for your comment!
Reply  ·  
ARTificialphanTOM's avatar
ARTificialphanTOM|Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I like the tragic version. You depicted it really well. Excessive vanity can make a beautiful person ugly. Great work.
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