Hearing about Medusa could be very scary. Her hair is full of viper snakes. She turns people who look at her eyes into stone. Why are people so afraid of a monster? What made Medusa a monster? What defines her as a monster? Jeffrey Cohen’s thesis I, The Monster’s Body Is a Cultural Body and Thesis II, The Monster Always Escapes of “Seven Monster Theory” could explain how to answer these questions. Understanding what made Medusa a monster would develop a better understanding of how monstrous mind displays in a society. We have heard that Medusa turned into a monster because Poseidon raped her in Athena’s temple. This fact from Greek mythology would imply to violence against women that has been an issue in the society nowadays. Athena’s curse made Medusa a monster, and she had more power. For this reason, she is known for a frightening monster who could turn any men into stone.


Medusa is a powerful monster. She has appeared as a monstrous creature in movies. One of them is “Clash of Titans” in 1981, and the new version of “Clash of Titans” was released in 2010. Medusa was represented as half human and half creature. Perseus, the son of Zeus cut off her head, and he used her head to kill his enemies. According to the article named Medusa, states that “Medusa’s name comes from the ancient Greek verb “μέδω” which is translated as “to guard or protect”” (Garcia). She was one of three sisters who was known as the Gorgons. They were fierce, frightening, and repulsive women. The article “Snake Eyes: The Power to Turn the Patriarchy to Stone,” states that “All three sisters were seen as monstrous for having the power to kill men. Medusa, however, was the only mortal and the most attractive of the three. She was also the most powerful, killing more men than either of her sisters, which also made her the most threatening and the most feared” (Schwark). Because Medusa’s beauty attracted the attention of Poseidon, she was raped by Poseidon in the temple of Athena. Then, Athena cursed her into a frightening creature, so she was a victim of Poseidon’s masculinity. As a result, her story could be a good example to observe how violence against women started to begin in the male-dominated society. Poseidon and Athena were gods, but Medusa was a mortal Gorgon. She did not have the same power as them. Athena’s curse turned Medusa into a monster. Monster Culture (Seven Theses) helps to understand and define a monster. Being conscious of a monster could contribute to a better understanding of the monstrous mind of humans. Why would humans create a monster?

Medusa illustrates the connection of Jeffrey Cohen’s thesis I, The Monster’s Body Is a Cultural Body of “Seven Monster Theory”. It could be applied to explore how monsters relate to humans’ mind. Each culture has its own tradition, belief, and myth. Through religious perspective, Medusa’s story is represented differently depending on the culture where Medusa story was written. For instance, the article Medusa in Myth and Literary History describes Medusa in Christian symbolism as “… [representative of] the dreaded enemy and death, and thus becomes an embodiment of the Devil” (Powers). In Christian, Medusa is representative of bad things. Observing people’s fear of Medusa demonstrates why fear has changed over time. According to the “Monster Culture 7 Theses,” states in the thesis I that “The monsters are born as an embodiment of a certain cultural moment, a time, a feeling, and a place. A monster will always change because culture changes, our fears, and beliefs are always changing (4).” Medusa is a monster that connects to time, place, and people’s feeling. The article “What Depictions of Medusa Say about the Way Society Views Powerful Women,” reveals how the appearance of Medusa has transformed in different specific time and culture. The article indicates the changes of Medusa over time, and it also talks about how the perspective of people who look at Medusa has also changed over time. The article first describes that in the Classical period flourished during the 5th and 4th centuries BC, artistic representation of Medusa began to change. Medusa had the physical characteristics of both male and female, but in 5th and 4th centuries, Medusa was increasingly changed to female (Cain). It provides the description of how Medusa changed from men to women.  “Moustache stubble was replaced by smooth cheeks, fangs concealed by shapely lips” (Cain).


In 450 – 440 BC, there was the provided example of how beautiful Medusa was. She had a curly hair, but she did not have snakes on her head. Her face was always looked smiling. She seemed like the angel. Later Roman Representations began to illustrate Medusa’s signature snake-filled hair. However, she looked innocent and harmless more than frightening. The artistic around the year 8 AD felt sympathy for Medusa, so they made her appear as a human instead of a monster (Cain). Nowadays, Medusa has appeared in movies, and the movies have entertained people. For instance, The Clash of Titans and Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief were released in 2010. She was represented in both movies as the monstrous creature. However, Medusa might appear with different stories and myth. If we observe Medusa closely, we would know why it would be common to see different versions of Medusa.

Jeffrey Cohen’s Thesis II, The Monster Always Escapes of “Seven Monster Theory” points out that no matter how hard we try to kill a monster; however, it always comes back. It will reappear again. In the thesis II also indicates that “Monsters must be examined within the intricate matrix of relations (social, cultural, and literary-historical) that generate them” (Cohen). Monsters connect to persona who assign them. The article “Medusa: Sexuality, Power, Mastery, and Some Psychoanalytic Observations,” says that “Although many elements of the Medusa myth have remained intact over generations, there are some variations” (Silverman). Medusa myth tends to be the same story; however, there are changes or different versions of Medusa. In the same article illustrates the example of the Greek myth. It states that “Medusa was a seductress. She was an amazing beauty with gorgeous flowing golden locks that were enviable, and she directly challenged Athena with her beauty. She was a rich queen with many land holdings and Perseus coveted her wealth” (Silverman). This example makes people visualize Medusa as a very attractive woman who owns beauty, reputation and wealth. Beauty seems to be a good word, but thinking about beauty carefully could be something that means unsafe. For instance, Medusa was very beautiful, so she was the target of many men. Medusa always comes back with different versions and myth. The article Transforming Medusa asserts that “a power as great as Medusa’s cannot simply be eliminated; it must be transformed” (Rosada 173). Nobody would be able to eliminate the power of Medusa, but they can transform it. The same article goes on to explain that “The monster who became the beautiful maiden- who then, through her myth, became the monster again- finds herself repeatedly transformed throughout her history, and with each new incarnation, meaning are both lost and gained” (Rosada 179). The example is the Clash of the Titans movie. Even though Medusa was killed by Perseus, her head was still being used. In the movies, Medusa’s head usually appears to kill other monsters. For example, the Clash of Titans new version, Perseus used Medusa’s head to kill Kraken, a sea monster. She is very powerful in the movie.

In conclusion, observing Medusa reveals that humans could create monsters themselves. In society, it should not be common to see violence against women in society. The transformation of a beautiful woman to a powerful monster who then has a weapon to protect herself. The weapon is her ability to turn any men who look at her to stone. Even though Medusa is a monstrous monster, she could be one of the good examples to examine the behaviors of being a monster. Therefore, humans could adapt or learn from her behaviors in order to avoid factors or things that could make humans become monsters.


Annotated Bibliography

Cain, Abigail. “What Depictions of Medusa Say about the Way Society Views Powerful Women.” 11 Artworks, Bio & Shows on Artsy, Artsy, 20 May 2018, 8:00 AM,

Cohen, Jeffrey Jerome. “Monster Culture: Seven Theses.” From Monster Theory: Reading Culture. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996. 3-25

Garcia, Brittany. “Medusa.” Ancient History Encyclopedia, Ancient History Encyclopedia, 20 Aug. 2013,

Powers, Richard. “Medusa in Myth and Literary History.” Modern American Poetry,

Rosada, Jose Manuel. “Amaltea Revista De Mitocritica.” Transforming Medusa, vol. 3, 25 May 2011, pp. 169–181., doi:10.18411/a-2017-023.

Schwark, McKenzie. “Snake Eyes: The Power to Turn the Patriarchy to Stone.” Bitch Magazine: Feminist Response to Pop Culture, no. 78, Spring 2018, pp. 20–21. EBSCOhost,

The article talks about the other perspectives of good advantages as being a monster. For example, this article focuses on the power of Medusa eliminating a society that men are dominant. It indicates that Athena’s curse to Medusa could be a good thing because Medusa could use snake eyes to protect herself when men want to look at her in an attractive way. This article is used to answer the questions of how Medusa is defined as a monster, and it points out the result of Medusa being a monster. It is a reliable source because it is a magazine that is found in the Chaffey library database.

Silverman, Doris K. “Medusa: Sexuality, Power, Mastery, and Some Psychoanalytic Observations.” Studies in Gender & Sexuality, vol. 17, no. 2, Apr. 2016, pp. 114–125. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/15240657.2016.1172926.

This article discusses the Medusa myth. The article describes the story of Medusa. This research can be used as supporting details. This article describes what defines Medusa as a monster. It also explains how Medusa became a monster. It is a reliable source.