Medusa, the Greek mythological gorgon, has garnered both curiosity and controversy around herself. She has been portrayed either as a victim or a villain in many stories. But which one do you identify with? Here’s taking a look at some Medusa tattoo design ideas and their meanings.
Beauty is that Medusa’s head
Which men go armed to seek and sever.
It is most deadly when most dead,
And dead will stare and sting forever.
― Archibald MacLeish, Beauty
Amongst many renditions of Medusa’s stories, the one that makes her a symbol worthy of worship is indeed quite riveting. The Roman poet Ovid paints Medusa in his poetry, Metamorphoses, as an incredibly beautiful maiden. He refers to her as “the jealous aspiration of many suitors.” Medusa is described as someone who took great pride in her looks and flaunted it, teasing and titillating men. However, in a maddening rage when Poseidon rapes Medusa while she is worshiping in Athena’s temple, her fate changes forever. It is at this point that furious Athena cursed Medusa to have reptilian hair, and possess a gaze that would turn every onlooker into stone. However, in another version written by Hesiod, he says Poseidon and Medusa are united in passion in a meadow with flowers.
The end of Medusa’s life is what makes her a symbol of unconquerable feminine power, freedom, magic, transformation, and protection. It was when Perseus beheads her in her sleep, that the course of history and her legacy transpires. It is said that when Perseus decapitated Medusa, Pegasus (a winged horse) and Chrysaor―a golden sword-wielding giant―came out of her body, making her a symbol of powerful transformation and reincarnation.
Medusa Tattoo Meaning and Designs
As mentioned earlier, esteemed fashion company Versace chose the Medusa head, with snakes as hair, as its corporate logo. At one end of the wide spectrum of interpretation of this logo lies an understanding that vanity will ruin you. But, on the other end lies a simple statement by Donatella, Gianni Versace’s sister, she says with absolute conviction and unwavering nonchalance in her voice, “he told me he thought that whoever falls in love with the Medusa can’t flee from her.” And thus came into being, a logo that is revered, sought-after, and even copied by every elitist and evangelist. It is her sensuous power, her seductive charm, and her unconquerable power that made Medusa a symbol of feminism and of Neo-Nihilism too. It made women question the righteousness of their Poseidon. Many debates have spun around whether Medusa was a victim or a villain, but what holds true is that Medusa, above all, held power to make men fall in love with her, and a cursed Medusa could turn them into stone with just one look. Now, that’s some power!
In certain historic accounts, Medusa is said to have wings―a depiction that is closely held with her free being and the individual freedom she lived by despite her cursed life. It also symbolizes her reign over two worlds: Earth and the sky. To wear this tattoo design, you can infuse beautiful wings on her body. Despite the tale of Medusa being several ages old, the free will of Medusa truly testifies that all beautiful things are young, wild, and free!
The corroboration of stories from Greek Mythology is rather debatable. Thus, in many versions, the stories seem more fantastical than factual. This obviously puts the story of Medusa in the realm of conjecture and fiction, giving her superhuman abilities that create her dual nature, characterized by a destructive streak. In her cursed life, the infernal Medusa uses her powers to avenge the wrongdoings by using her eyes to turn men with a devious gaze into stone.
Medusa is also considered to be a symbol of transformation. Before she was turned into a horrendous-looking creature, her beauty was considered to be most captivating. Medusa, as she drew water from the well, would be enchanted by her own reflection in the water. Her fair skin, green eyes, long cascading golden hair, and red lips made her an object of every man’s desire and every woman’s jealousy. But when Athena cursed her, she transformed into a monster with snakes as her hair, fighting and biting her, changing her skin to scaly and rough. But her real and noteworthy transformation is one when her death entails. It is believed that when Medusa was killed, she was pregnant by Poseidon. The drops of her blood gave birth to Chrysaor, a giant armed with a golden blade, and a white equine Pegasus. The constant transformation of Medusa has made her a symbol of change that one leads to another.
Medusa on a shield denoting protection
The story of Medusa doesn’t end with the man who killed her. As Perseus returned to save his mother Danaë from marrying the ruthless King Polydectes, he was enraged to see his mother being treated as a slave. He went straight to the court of the merciless king and declared his triumph to the shocked king. As an answer to the king’s mockery, he removed and held up Medusa’s head, thus turning every spectator in the court to stone. Such was the potency of Medusa that even after her death, her power never truly left her. As Perseus seconded Athena’s curse, he returned the head to her who thereafter wore it on Aegis Pallas, the legendary shield.
The snakes on her head also symbolize regeneration and renewal as snakes tend to shed their skin and then grow it all anew. In modern times, however, Medusa is popularly considered to be an emblem of femininity and nihilism. Many argue whether the story of Medusa is that of tragedy caused by Athena’s act of misplaced anger, or that of a woman, who despite her curse and death continued to protect, project, and procreate. However, what must be remembered by inking Medusa is that this mythological gorgon did shake up even the Gods, and she demands some serious answers even in modern times.