What Does A Medusa Tattoo Mean?
If you’ve scrolled on your FYP in the last few months, you might have seen ambiguous TikToks that reference the meaning of the Medusa tattoo. “A lot of people didn’t realize the meaning of a Medusa tattoo. If you do, I am so sorry you went through this too.
You are so strong,” said TikTok user @r. bree. xo, showing her inking of the Gorgon. Videos of people showing their Medusa tattoos on the app are racking up hundreds of thousands of views, as many hint towards a deeper meaning.
Most will know Medusa for her head of snakes instead of hair and the power to turn anyone who looks at her into stone. Many will also be familiar with her most famous tale from mythology—being beheaded by Perseus. After severing her head using a bronze shield to protect his eyes, Perseus used Medusa’s head to defeat his enemies in battle.
Medusa became a sign of monstrous evil, but her backstory is far different. According to the main variation of her tale, Medusa was once a beautiful young woman. It was that beauty that caught the attention of sea god Poseidon, who is said to have raped her in Athena’s sacred temple.
Athena in response turned Medusa into the figure we recognize, with her snake curls and deathly stare. In the widely believed variation, the power put onto Medusa was a curse from Athena, who was furious at the tainting of her sacred temple. Other iterations of the myth however recognize it as a blessing, a way for Medusa to protect herself after being assaulted by Poseidon.
- According to The Met Museum, Medusa is portrayed in most Greek art as an “apotropaic symbol used to protect and ward off the negative,” representing a “dangerous threat meant to deter other dangerous threats, an image of evil to repel evil;
” In modern tales of Gorgon though, she is a symbol of female rage. She was even used in feminist theorist Hélène Cixous’s 1975 manifesto The Laugh of the Medusa. Similarly, the TikTok tattoos reference Medusa as a victim rather than a villain. She is seen as a symbol of power after sexual assault and combatting the culture of victim-blaming as a woman made into a monster for her own rape. Stock image of a Medusa head. Videos of people showing their Medusa tattoos on TikTok are racking up hundreds of thousands of views. Getty Images UPDATE 01/18/22 6:54 a. ET: This article was updated to include new videos and picture and to modify the headline..
- 1 Is it disrespectful to get a Medusa tattoo?
- 2 What does Medusa symbolize for woman?
- 3 Is Medusa a symbol of protection?
- 4 What does a pineapple tattoo mean?
- 5 What is Medusa’s personality?
Is it disrespectful to get a Medusa tattoo?
There should be nothing offensive about getting a Medusa tattoo. She is a female monster from Ancient Greek mythology but is also seen as a victim. It is believed that she was cursed by the goddess Athena and that anyone who met her gaze turned to stone.
What does Medusa symbolize for woman?
Medusa is an instantly recognizable figure from ancient Greek art. Her face, whether fierce and grotesque or feminine and composed, appears in virtually all media in varying contexts. The most common interpretation of Medusa suggests she is an apotropaic symbol used to protect from and ward off the negative, much like the modern evil eye.
- She represents a dangerous threat meant to deter other dangerous threats, an image of evil to repel evil;
- A close look at her role in Greek mythology and art reveals a nuanced and complex character with multiple iterations and implications;
Medusa is best known for having hair made of snakes and for her ability to turn anyone she looked at to stone, literally to petrify. Multiple works by ancient sources, such as Homer, the eighth-century B. poet Hesiod, and the fifth-century B. lyric poet Pindar, provide a wide-ranging and diverse picture of the fabled creature.
- According to Hesiod’s Theogony , she was one of three Gorgon sisters born to Keto and Phorkys, primordial sea gods; Medusa was mortal, while the others, Stheno and Euryale, were immortal;
- The best known myth recounts her fateful encounter with the Greek hero Perseus;
A dishonorable king demanded that he bring him an impossible gift: the head of Medusa. Perseus set out with the aid of the gods, who provided him with divine tools. While the Gorgons slept, the hero attacked, using Athena’s polished shield to view the reflection of Medusa’s awful face and avoid her petrifying gaze while he beheaded her with a harpe , an adamantine sword.
- Such a violent act resulted in the birth of Medusa’s children, the winged horse Pegasos and the giant Chrysaor, who sprung from her neck;
- The two immortal sisters pursued Perseus with fury, but the hero escaped with his prize using Hermes’ winged boots and Hades’ helmet of invisibility;
Not even death, however, could quell Medusa’s power, and Perseus had to keep her decapitated head in a special sack strong enough to contain it, called a kybisis. On his travels, he used the head to turn his enemies to stone and rescue the princess Andromeda from a sea monster ( 20.
192. 16 ), before giving it to Athena for her aegis ( 34. 11. 7 ). Pindar’s Twelfth Pythian Ode recounts how Stheno and Euryale’s angry pursuit of their sister’s killer resulted in another chapter of the Medusa myth.
After hearing their anguished and furious cries, Athena was inspired to invent the flute to mimic them. When the goddess played the flute, however, she discarded it after seeing her reflection; her face distended and became ugly as she played ( 24. 97. 28 ).
- While she purposefully and successfully mimicked the wails of the Gorgons, she also unwittingly imitated their wide and dreadful features;
- The snake-haired Medusa does not become widespread until the first century B;
The Roman author Ovid describes the mortal Medusa as a beautiful maiden seduced by Poseidon in a temple of Athena. Such a sacrilege attracted the goddess’ wrath, and she punished Medusa by turning her hair to snakes. While these stories sound fantastical today, to the ancient Greeks they were quasi-historical.
- Myths, as well as the stories recorded by Homer and Hesiod, were considered part of a lost heroic past when men and women interacted with heroes, gods, and the supernatural;
- Tales from this period were repeated in every medium; the evidence from Greece presents a world saturated with heroes and monsters in poetry, prose, and art;
As such, Medusa was not just a fantastical beast, but part of a shared past and present in the minds of ancient viewers. She signified a historical menace—the story of Perseus vanquishing and harnessing her energy was not just a story, but a chapter in the shared allegorical and historical record of the Greeks.
- Just as Medusa exists in multiple types of stories in the mythological record, she is also portrayed in multiple ways in ancient art;
- Her appearance changes drastically through the centuries, but she is always recognizable due to her striking frontality;
It is rare in Greek art for a figure to face directly out, but in almost all representations of Medusa, despite style and medium, she stares ahead and uncompromisingly confronts the viewer. The term gorgoneion refers to the head and face of Medusa, which was used often as a decorative motif.
- It is a prolific symbol of her particular power that appears in architecture , vase painting , and metalwork;
- The gorgoneion was a pervasive image in temple decoration of the Archaic period (ca;
- 700–480 B;
Perhaps the largest example comes from Temple C (built ca. 540 B. ) at Selinunte in southwestern Sicily—two monumental gorgoneia, one on the east and one on the west, dominated the pediments of the temple. Medusa’s visage was also used to decorate smaller architectural elements.
In Sicily, southern Italy, and mainland Greece, temples were decorated with numerous antefixes (ornamental terracotta roof tile covers) that bore gorgoneia ( 27. 122. 14 ), a phenomenon especially prevalent during the Archaic period.
During this time, Medusa is depicted as a monster; she has a round face, wide eyes, a beard, and a gaping mouth with an extended tongue and gnashing, sharp teeth ( 39. 11. 9 ). Medusa remains a popular image on later architectural components, but her form is more specifically human and female.
She loses the frightful teeth and beard, but is still recognizable ( 20. 215 ) in Classical and Hellenistic examples with her wild hair and confrontational look ( 98. 30 ). Greek vases, cups, and related terracotta objects sometimes included a decorative gorgoneion as well.
In some cases it was painted at the bottom of a drinking vessel ( 14. 136 ) and served to surprise the drinker as he emptied his cup. Pieces from the seventh and sixth centuries B. are decorated with monstrous gorgoneia that can take up the entire surface ( 31.
11. 4 ), similar to those on contemporary antefixes. The circular shape of many of these ceramics offers a particularly appropriate space to depict the rotund face of the Archaic Gorgon; it is outrageous, with oversized features that combine the feminine (curled hair and earrings) with the masculine (beard).
The trend of using Medusa’s face to decorate ceramics continued into the Hellenistic period (ca. 323–31 B. She is present as the central decoration on many vases ( 06. 1021. 246a,b ), as well as a repetitive ornamental motif. Just as in architecture , these late fourth- and third-century B.
Gorgons evolve from the grotesque to the feminine but retain their specific frontal quality. The fifth century B. saw the emergence of a new artistic emphasis on the ideal form. Perfection and beauty became the standards of this new Classical style, and Medusa, despite her role as a monster, was not exempt.
Medusa is truly ubiquitous—she is represented not only in architecture and pottery, but also in metalwork. Her head is a common ornament on the handles of bronze vessels ( 60. 11. 2a,b ). The circular shape and protective qualities of her countenance also lend themselves to jewelry; she appears on earrings, pendants, and rings ( 74.
51. 3397b ). The Gorgon is also reproduced on armor. In the Iliad , her head appears on Zeus’ aegis. Hesiod’s Shield of Herakles describes an illustration of the myth of Perseus and the Gorgons on the hero’s shield.
More commonly, the gorgoneion is the central motif on the aegis of Athena. Depictions of the goddess in both vase painting ( 63. 11. 6 ; 34. 11. 7 ) and sculpture ( 24. 97. 15 ) include the head of Medusa on her chest. The most renowned sculpture of Athena, the gold and ivory Athena Parthenos that once stood in the Parthenon, included two gorgoneia: one on her aegis and one on her shield.
- The Gorgon’s face is not limited to divine armor, however, but also decorated the martial accoutrements of Greek soldiers , such as helmets, shields, and greaves ( 41;
- 74 ; 1991;
- 45 );
- The presence of Medusa on armor reinforces the idea that her presence held significant power to protect the wearer against enemies;
The gorgoneion is not the only artistic representation of Medusa; she is also shown in scenes illustrating the adventures of Perseus. In many cases, the hero flees with Medusa’s head as her body lies nearby, sometimes with Pegasos and Chrysaor at their mother’s side ( 06.
1070 ). A monumental example of this type is the central decoration of the early sixth-century B. Temple of Artemis on Corfu, though interestingly this depiction leaves out Perseus and the beheading. Other scenes display the moment before the killing.
The iconographic formula consists of Perseus holding his sword to Medusa’s neck, looking away as he delivers the fatal cut to avoid her petrifying gaze. A metope from Temple C at Selinunte depicts such a tableau and includes Athena, who stands by the hero to guide him.
In later illustrations from the fifth century B. , Medusa is asleep while the hero approaches to attack ( 45. 11. 1 ). Here is a rare instance of a nonfrontal, nonstaring Medusa; in sleep, the threat of her power is canceled.
Indeed, she is portrayed as a peacefully sleeping human figure—only her wings suggest that she is a supernatural creature. Some scenes include the other Gorgons, Stheno and Euryale, pursuing Perseus after he has beheaded Medusa. One example, on an early seventh-century B.
- amphora from Eleusis, depicts the two running after the hero while their headless sister’s body lies behind them;
- The Gorgons are often represented in this running pose, known as knielauf , on pottery ( 01;
6 ), in architecture, and on relief sculpture ( 55. 11. 4 ). Even though Medusa’s appearance changes drastically through the Archaic , Classical , and Hellenistic periods , from a grotesque creature to a beautiful female, her “otherness” remains. The legends of the Gorgons cast them as foreign others living outside of the known Greek world and horrific beings to be feared and ultimately vanquished.
- Archaic depictions are monstrous and inexplicable—the Gorgon seems to be both male and female, both human and animal;
- The sixth-century B;
- antefixes, bronze handles, and vase decorations all depict a creature that is as terrible as it is distinctive;
Classical and Hellenistic images of Medusa are more human, but she retains a sense of the unknown through specific supernatural details such as wings and snakes. These later images may have lost the gaping mouth, sharp teeth, and beard, but they preserve the most striking quality of the Gorgon: the piercing and unflinching outward gaze.
- Alterity is at the foundation of Medusa’s force, which was alive and present in the minds and memories of ancient viewers;
- Her very presence is foreign, dangerous, and potent, as are her specific characteristics;
In the Odyssey , her head was kept in Hades to drive the living from the world of the dead. The Perseus myth provides us with the phenomenon that her face and gaze could turn men to stone. Pindar preserves the tale that the Gorgon’s cries were awesome and awful.
- Perseus and Athena were required to control such threatening forces and harness their power;
- This harness was taken up by ancient Greek artists, who represented the Gorgon across all periods and in all media;
Medusa is a deadly and cryptic other, but she is also ubiquitous, with an undeniable energy that inspired artists to repeat her semblance and story in diverse ways across literature, lore, and art through ancient Greece, Rome, and beyond.
Is Medusa a symbol of protection?
Medusa. I am 99. 7% confident you have heard of this ‘word’ before but do you actually know who she was and the history behind her ‘image’!? As Medusa is one of the 5 incredible females in History that feature in our ‘Phenomenal Women’ collection of pendants we’re here to teach you a little more about why she’s so awesome and why she is now one of our best-selling pendants! From fighting off the evil, ultimate Protection’ powers and a head full of snake hair, keep reading to learn more on this legend of history. What is the story of Medusa? Medusa, whose name probably comes from the Ancient Greek word for ‘guardian’, was one of the three Gorgons and daughter of the sea gods Phorcys and Ceto. All of Medusa’s siblings were monsters by birth and, even though she wasn’t one herself, she had the misfortune of being turned into the most hideous of them all. It was written that Medusa’s face was so hideous and her gaze so piercing that the mere sight of her was sufficient to turn a man to stone….
- But it wasn’t always like that;
- Medusa was unique from her sisters in the fact that, unlike her sisters, she was born with a beautiful face;
- Her lush long hair was claimed to be the “most wonderful of all her charms;
” The great sea god Poseidon seemed to have shared this admiration because he couldn’t resist the temptation and managed to impregnate Medusa in the temple of Athena. Furious, the virgin goddess transformed Medusa’s enchanting hair into a coil of serpents, turning the youngest Gorgon into the monster described above.
Soon after she was impregnated, Perseus was sent on a quest to ‘Fetch me the head of Medusa’ commanded by Polydectes With the help of Athena, Perseus reached the land of the Gorgons ready for his quest.
When he arrived, Medusa was asleep so Perseus using the reflection in Athena’s bronze shield (so as to not look directly at the Gorgons and be turned into stone), managed to cut off her head with his sickle – Hectic! Because Medusa was pregnant at the time of her death, her two unborn children, Chrysaor and Pegasus suddenly sprang from her neck.
- The Gorgons (aka Medusa’s sisters) were awoken by the noise and did their best to avenge the death of her, but they could neither see or catch Perseus because he was wearing Hades’ Cap of Invisibility and Hermes’ winged sandals (Epic!) Now that Perseus had Medusa’s head in his bag, he went back to Seriphos;
However, while he was flying over Libya, drops of Medusa’s blood fell to the ground and instantly turned into snakes; it is because of this that, to this day, Libya is filled with serpents…. When Perseus arrived in Seriphos, he used Medusa’s head to turn Polydectes and the vicious islanders into stones; the island was well-known long after for its numerous rocks.
- Always the protector of heroes, Athena put aside a lock of Medusa’s hair for Heracles who ended up giving it to Cepheus’ daughter to use it to protect her hometown;
- Supposedly, even though it didn’t have the power of Medusa’s gaze, the lock could still cast terror into any enemy unfortunate enough to even accidentally behold it;
Does Medusa have any other names? Medusa was also called Gorgo and she was one of the three monstrous Gorgons sister called Medusa, Stheno and Euryale who were all often depicted together in Greek Mythology. Where did Medusa hail from? Medusa is apart of the huge intertwining stories of ancient Greek Mythology. What was Medusa most known for? Because Medusa’s head was placed on Athena’s shield and her blood was revealed to hold the power of both life and death, her head became a symbol of protection. In fact, Medusa’s head went on to inspire one of the most powerful talisman of it’s time – the Gorgoneion to which we have now created an amulet for! Whats up with the snakey curly hair of Medusa? Right!? Kind of cool though… ish? Her hair of snakes and reptilian skin are symbolic of the natural cycle of birth, death and rebirth.
- Snakes are used due to their shedding of skin, their rebirth to a new skin;
- This cycle is paralleled with women’s natural cycle of menstruation, which was believed to be synchronized with the cycles of the moon and tide (And we love the Moon & it’s effect here at Luna & Rose) Medusa’s ability to turn men into stone is an important facet of her feminine power;
This is the power over all life, the ability to return life back to the earth from which it came. This is the power which must be reigned in by the patriarchal Greek gods, for it represents a total control over the natural cycle. Where would one traditionally find a depiction of Medusa? Medusa, her sisters, and other Gorgons, have been featured in art and culture from the days of ancient Greece to present day through art, sculpture, writings, poetry and carvings.
- She has been variously portrayed as a monster, a protective symbol, a rallying symbol for liberty, and a sympathetic victim of rape and/or a curse;
- You will find paintings and carvings of her in history museums (mostly in Europe),a lot of history online and today, in one of our beautifully hand-carved pendants;
Why did we decide to made Medusa into a beautiful pendant? We love the story of Medusa and her powers to protect from and ward off negative energy. Our Medusa Pendant is a symbol of Protection, Strength, Femininity, Female Empowerment and the Natural World.
Is Medusa a popular tattoo?
There’s a corner of TikTok focused on pretty much every interest, so it should come as no surprise that people who are passionate about tattoos have found a home on the platform. If you’ve stumbled on tattoo TikTok, or even if you’re a member, you may have noticed that many users are getting tattoos of Medusa.
What does a 3 butterfly tattoo mean?
Do Butterfly Tattoo Bring Good Luck? – Butterfly Tattoos are popular with both men and women. They symbolize transformation, rebirth, and freedom. The meaning behind the butterfly tattoo is that of good luck or fortune in some cultures while others believe it represents renewal after death.
What does a phoenix tattoo mean?
A phoenix symbolizes birth, death, and rebirth, as well as eternity, strength, and renewal. The whole idea that this mythical bird is reborn from the ashes of the flames of death signifies a journey through fire or adversity. It’s a great way to express a transformation or survival of a challenge.
Is Medusa a symbol of feminism?
Trigger warning: mentions of sexual assault Any kid born in the early 2000’s has likely heard of the Percy Jackson series. A modern take on ancient Greek mythology, it sent a whole generation into a mythology frenzy — inhaling books and pretending to be half-bloods, picking which gods they wanted as parents.
- True to most tellings, the series portrayed Medusa — an obstacle the main character had to battle — as a heartless wench collecting unlucky statues with incredible force;
- She was cold, calculated, and terrifying;
Now, the same generation has turned her into a feminist icon with a story too many can relate to; instead of being a symbol of fear, Medusa has become the symbol of justice for sexual assault victims.
What is the story behind Medusa?
Medusa – Legend states that Medusa was once a beautiful, avowed priestess of Athena who was cursed for breaking her vow of celibacy. She is not considered a goddess or Olympian , but some variations on her legend say she consorted with one. When Medusa had an affair with the sea god Poseidon , Athena punished her.
- She turned Medusa into a hideous hag, making her hair into writhing snakes and her skin was turned a greenish hue;
- Anyone who locked gaze with Medusa was turned into stone;
- The hero Perseus was sent on a quest to kill Medusa;
He was able to defeat the Gorgon by lopping off her head, which he was able to do by fighting her reflection in his highly polished shield. He later used her head as a weapon to turn enemies to stone. An image of Medusa’s head was placed on Athena’s own armor or shown on her shield.
What does a pineapple tattoo mean?
Pineapple tattoos are cute—or abstract, or edgy, or any vibe you want, really. One of the best parts of pineapple tattoos is that no two are the same, even if they’re done in the same style or in the same place on the body. One reason that pineapple tattoos vary so widely is that there are so many different meanings of the pineapple in general.
- In the American South, for example, the fruit is considered a symbol of warmth, welcome, and hospitality, so a pineapple tattoo may represent a sense of home or something personally familiar;
- They can also symbolize affection, so it’s a great idea for a couple or best friend tattoo;
On top of that, pineapple tattoos are a great idea for anyone who relates to the fruit as a metaphor: tough on the outside but sweet on the inside. Its status as a tropical fruit also makes it a great symbol for anyone who loves the beach. Another great perk of pineapple tattoos is that there are only two requirements: there has to be a spiky stem and a flat-bottomed, ovular base.
- The flexibility everywhere else allows you and your artist to play around with different textures, patterns, colors, placement, and more;
- Whether you need placement inspiration or want to check out what the fruit would look like in different styles , here are 19 pineapple tattoo ideas to get your ink concepts flowing;
01 of 19.
What does a butterfly tattoo symbolize?
A paradigm of natural beauty, the butterfly is a long-standing symbol that represents faith, transformation, and freedom. Traditionally, the butterfly has also been closely connected to femininity and romantic love, which is why butterfly tattoo designs are so popular.
What does the story of Medusa teach us?
The Moral of the Story – The story of Perseus and Medusa is told to teach various life lessons. Perseus is cast out into the sea in a wooden chest with his unfaithful mother, yet they survive the rough seas by praying to Poseidon for the seas to be calm.
Once landing on the island of Serifos, Perseus grew into a strong man with noble character and great intelligence. As King Polydectes ordered the near-impossible task that Perseus bring him the head of Medusa, Perseus dedicated himself to fulfilling the demand to save his mother.
As the son of Zeus, Perseus had help from the gods during his journey to find Medusa. Perseus used these gifts to locate Medusa and behead her, but it was also his strength, courage, and intelligence that helped him succeed. His courage, strength, and intelligence was also the reason that Perseus saved Andromeda from the Cetus and returned home with her, slaying both Phineus and Polydectes with the head of Medusa by turning them into stone.
The story of Perseus and Medusa is a story of perseverance, bravery, and dignity. Perseus personifies the length one would go to in order to save the ones you love. Perseus shows the authenticity of his character when he rescues the helpless Andromeda from the Cetus and the attachment to the rock.
The bravery and courage of Perseus are shown as he beheads Medusa, as well as his defeat of Phineus and Polydectes..
What does it mean to be called Medusa?
(mɪˈdjuːzə ) noun. Greek mythology. a mortal woman who was transformed by Athena into one of the three Gorgons. Her appearance was so hideous that those who looked directly at her were turned to stone.
What is Medusa’s personality?
Medusa represents alot of things. But she would mostly represent vainness women’s rage, or jealously. Vainness would mean meaningless, worthless, no value, or unsatisfying. Since Medusa was a woman she would mean women rage meaning violent uncontrolled anger because she would turn men to stone.
What is Medusa known for?
Medusa © piotrwzk/Shutterstock. com Medusa , in Greek mythology , the most famous of the monster figures known as Gorgons. She was usually represented as a winged female creature having a head of hair consisting of snakes; unlike the Gorgons, she was sometimes represented as very beautiful.
Medusa was the only Gorgon who was mortal; hence her slayer, Perseus , was able to kill her by cutting off her head. From the blood that spurted from her neck sprang Chrysaor and Pegasus , her two sons by Poseidon.
The severed head, which had the power of turning into stone all who looked upon it, was given to Athena , who placed it in her shield; according to another account, Perseus buried it in the marketplace of Argos. Heracles (Hercules) is said to have obtained a lock of Medusa’s hair (which possessed the same powers as the head) from Athena and given it to Sterope, the daughter of Cepheus, as a protection for the town of Tegea against attack; when exposed to view, the lock was supposed to bring on a storm, which put the enemy to flight. Britannica Quiz A Study of Greek and Roman Mythology Who led the Argonauts in search of the Golden Fleece? Who is the Roman equivalent of the Greek god Ares? From fruits to winged sandals, test your knowledge in this study of Greek and Roman mythology. In the British writer Iris Murdoch’s novel A Severed Head (1961), the heroine is a Medusa figure. The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica This article was most recently revised and updated by Adam Augustyn ..