Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Day L - Gorgon

Serpentine tresses,
Stone-cold petrifying stare,
Sisters induce dread.

Undoubtedly amongst the greatest monsters of Greek mythology, the three Gorgon sisters (Stheno, Euryale and Medusa) go down in legend as loathsome snake-haired women whose eyes turn unfortunate others to stone. Described as having fanged teeth, tusks, bronze hands and golden wings, the gruesome beasts' reptile-features are infamous and have appeared in pop culture all over the place (from schlocky Hammer horror, Harryhausen stop-motion film and heavy metal music, for a start). Functioning as the fearsome nemeses of Perseus in myth, the hero enlists the help of the Olympian gods in order to achieve his objective of bringing back a Gorgon head (they provide Hermes' winged sandals, Hades' Cap of Darkness conferring invisibility, an ultra-sharp sickle and a shiny shield). Stheno and Euryale are immortal, but Medusa is not: ergo, Perseus targets her, only looks at her reflection in his shield as he approaches then decapitates her with the sickle. Fleeing the distraught sisters (who can't apprehend him as he's wearing the Cap of Darkness), the hero proceeds to use the snake-adorned head to turn various other enemies to stone. From the severed neck of Medusa springs the winged horse Pegasus (Medusa was pregnant by Poseidon) which gives even more reason to regard the reptilians as amongst the most brilliant and imaginative of mythical beasts. Back in antiquity the Gorgon was employed as an apotropaic icon on amulets and architecture to protect against evil, but their grim presence pervades the ages. Gloriously ghastly, all hail to the hybrid horrors with the hissing hairdos.

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