What Does A Medusa Tattoo Stand For?
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..
What does the Medusa symbol mean?
Medusa Facts – 1- Who were Medusa’s parents? Medusa’s parents were Phorcys and Keto, but sometimes identified as Forcis and Gaia. 2- Who were Medusa’s siblings? Stheno and Euryale (the other two Gorgon sisters) 3- How many children did Medusa have? Medusa had two children called Pegasus and Chrysaor 4- Who was the father of Medusa’s children? Poseidon, the god of the seas.
She became pregnant when he raped her in Athena’s temple. 5- Who killed Medusa? Perseus the eventual founder of Mycenae and the Perseid dynasty. 6- What does Medusa symbolize? Medusa’s symbolism is open to interpretation.
Some popular theories include Medusa as a symbol of the powerlessness of women, evil, strength and a fighting spirit. She is also seen as a protective symbol due to her ability to destroy those against her. 7- What are Medusa’s symbols? Medusa’s symbols are her head of snakes and her deathly stare.
8- Why has Medusa’s head been depicted on logos and coins? Medusa represent power and the ability to destroy one’s enemies. She’s often viewed as a strong figure. Her head is viewed as a protective symbol and was even used by the French Revolution as a symbol of French liberation and freedom.
9- Did Medusa have wings? Some depictions show Medusa as having wings. Others show her as being very beautiful. There is no consistent depiction of Medusa, and her portrayal varies. 10- Was Medusa a goddess? No, she was a Gorgon, one of three hideous sisters.
Is Medusa an offensive 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.
Are Medusa tattoos common?
Medusa Tattoo Meaning – Medusa is a singular figure in mythology, but she brings a lot of meanings with her. People who get a Medusa tattoo can use one or all of the meanings we go over on this page, though they’d be very complex people if they did that.
- Medusa tattoos have plenty of different designs to choose from, too, which is why it is a tattoo that has gained some steam over the years;
- Medusa is a gorgon, a creature of ancient Greek myth characterized by her fatal gaze and head of snakes;
Her image is meant to terrify, turning onlookers into stone. With this Medusa tattoo meaning, owners might want to give off the impression that they are unapproachable. They could also use the tattoo to mean that people who get to close to them usually get hurt. One of three sisters, Medusa is the only mortal and therefore, the only fallible gorgon. Some people might get their Medusa tattoos to show their vulnerability. Medusa seemed as if she could not be killed but she was just as vulnerable as any human. Many of us, as human beings, come off a little gruff or unapproachable. This could be for many reasons but this version of the Medusa tattoo is a way to show that people are vulnerable and they might be trying to protect themselves.
This is a tattoo of someone that hasn’t dealt with all of their demons yet and maybe socially shy or uncomfortable. These tattoos have special characteristics, but at the end of the day they are human beings who need the essentials just like everyone else.
Funny enough, this Medusa tattoo meaning is one to show a person’s “normalcy. ” Medusa’s eventual beheading lead to the birth of Pegasus and the lesser known Greek figure Chrysador, a giant with an enormous sword. In this way, Medusa can be a symbol of fertility although her body only produces offspring following her beheading. She can be depicted either as a beautiful maiden or horrifying hag, depending on the intended tone of the image. In fact, some people try to capture both sides of Medusa in the same tattoo. In this way, they are showing that they have a good and bad side. We all have a side that we are afraid to let out to the surface. It might be sadness or anger but we usually carry some sort of baggage with us throughout our lifetime.
Her death becomes a process of regeneration, connecting her further with Gaia. This might seem like an odd way to represent fertility but many people thrive on being different and cryptic. The confusion on why someone picked the tattoo they did is always a fun way to start up a conversation.
This tattoo can be used as a warning to others to treat them the right way or else they are going to see the angry version. Her myth is tragic, a woman who was born of the gods but cast into mortality and cursed as a hideous, snake-haired woman. Interestingly, both this and the opposite meaning can be used when someone gets a Medusa tattoo.
They can get the tat to symbolize the fact that they feel different in a bad way, or they can get it to mean that they like being unique no matter what they look like. Of course, some people will get it to mean both sides of that coin.
In the same light, this tattoo might represent remorse for a decision one made in the past which was the reason something changed in their life. In Medusa’s case, she was cast down by Athena for being the apple of Poseidon’s eye. This wasn’t necessarily her fault but it cost her the beauty she once had and her immortality.
- The Medusa tattoo might represent what we have turned into because of our decisions;
- She is eventually beheaded but remains an iconic figure of protection as well as female wisdom;
- You simply aren’t going to find too many better symbols of female power, which is why the Medusa tattoo has been getting more popular;
Medusa was strong and formidable. Many of us hope to take on those traits but because of the woman’s oppressed past, she might use this as a symbol of strength and reminder to not let any person hold you down. If the right meanings are used, the Medusa tattoo is a great image if you want to represent feminism in a new way.
Countless relics from Ancient Greece depict the image of the snake-haired Medusa as a symbol of protection. It was ritually used on armor, weaponry, entrances and doorways as a means of warding away evil.
The image of Medusa itself definitely makes people hesitate, which is exactly what some people want when they get this tattoo. It’s not necessarily an aggressive image, though it could be used in that way. Instead, it is there to make people pause and act with caution. The grimace of Medusa’s face petrifies any malevolent spirits in their tracks, keeping those who brandish the image safe. For this reason, some people will get their Medusa tattoo to feel safer in their own skin. As an ancient protection symbol, the Medusa in this way also symbolizes aspects of the mother goddess, especially as a child of Gaia, the creator. In a more modern sense, her image can be used as a warning to keep others at a distance.
- Dark tones enhance her hideous features and present the visage of Medusa as a frightening monster;
- The snakes around her head are often shown as coiled and ready to strike, emphasizing her power;
- This is yet another Medusa tattoo meaning that is used to show someone’s strength;
Contrarily, Medusa can be portrayed as a fair-faced, mortal woman. There are multiple meanings that can be used with this image. Some will use it to show that it’s important to find the beauty in people, while others will want it to mean that they see the beauty in people. Various versions of the myth of Medusa recount her rape by Poseidon, which leads to her transformation into the horrifying monster. Someone who has suffered an extreme hardship might use the Medusa tattoo to both remember and get past the event. This is an uncommon Medusa tattoo meaning, but someone who both likes the image of Medusa and has had something bad happen to them might find it to be the perfect representation.
Neither is an obvious Medusa tattoo meaning, but they are strong meanings nonetheless and important to someone that has used this idea to portray their message. The Medusa tattoo is one that can be tattooed in many styles and it is.
From realism to new school, the Medusa tattoo is a very popular Greek mythology tattoo and there are a lot of popular characters to choose from. We suggest taking your time in the search for a tattoo artist and when you think you’ve found one, have a consultation with them.
- The most important fault about getting your tattoo is to make sure that you feel comfortable with the people tattooing you;
- This is important because it will be a memory you have forever;
- If you have been searching for a long time and are still having trouble finding an artist, reach out to the team at Tattoo SEO;
We have years of experience of connecting artists and customers. We make sure the match is fitting and that both artist and customer will bond over the new tattoo. If this doesn’t help give you some ideas, check out the list of pictures below to get some new ideas for your next tattoo. .
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.
Is Medusa a positive symbol?
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.
- 16 ), before giving it to Athena for her aegis ( 34;
- 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.
- 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;
- 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.
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..