|When you hear the name Medusa, what comes to mind? A person with snakes for hair. However, she was not born like that; she was actually a very beautiful girl with gorgeous hair. Everyone loved her and worshipped her, but being treated like a goddess went a little bit to her head. She started comparing herself to real goddesses. She would boast and brag that her hair was more beautiful than Athena’s hair. When Athena heard this she grew mad and very envious because she knew this was partly true. As most Greek or Roman myths go, somebody will get revenge over a silly little thing and end up ruining the other person’s or god’s life; and that is exactly what Athena did. Athena turned Medusa’s wonderful locks of hair into snakes. She also gave Medusa a mesmerizing stare that would turn anyone who looked in her eyes into stone. Medusa ran away to Africa and grew so monstrous that everyone feared her. That is, everyone except Perseus. It was said that if he wanted to become forever famous, he must bring Athena the head of Medusa, the man-killing monster. Perseus was warned not to look at her. It would be very hard to cut a head off when you cannot see where the head even is. He took his bronze shield with him and was given beautiful shoes with wings on the heels so he could fly on the long journey to Medusa’s lair. Once he arrived in the deserts of Africa, he fell upon a cave and closed his eyes and began to go in. One of his hands was on his sword and the other was gripping his bronze shield. As he stepped, bones on the floor would snap and break. Somewhere deep in the cave, he could hear hissing. As he walked, the hissing grew louder and louder. Then the hissing turned into words. “I can see by your sword and shield you are here for me. They’ve sent you to slay the monster,” hissed Medusa. Perseus struggled to not look at her. He closed his eyes tighter. (She said) “But I am no monster. My hair is not snakes. It is the color of the richest soil and it is as fine as silk. My eyes are now red. They match the cool green of the sea. Take a look for yourself.” Her voice was no longer a dangerous hiss of a snake, but the gentle rush of a waterfall. But Perseus did not look. “LOOK AT ME NOW!” she screeched with a voice far from a waterfall. She roared. Out of fright, Perseus raised his shield for protection. Medusa, instead of looking at Perseus, was now looking at her reflection in the shield. With a blood-curdling scream, Medusa turned into stone. Perseus chopped off her head and put his prize in his pocket. It was also said that the blood that dripped from Medusa, became the poisonous snakes that live in Africa today. Perseus flew to Athena and gave her the head; Athena put the head on her shield. That is why you see Medusa’s head on Athena’s shield.
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