Mosaic of Medusa

Gender stereotypes: subject of history / allegory

The Gorgon Medusa acted as a model of womanhood in the Greek world. This female being with a terrible visage represents chaos, darkness and evil, as well as cunning and the capacity for deceit. But Medusa is also a representation of motherhood and fertility, for from her severed neck sprang the winged horse Pegasus and the warrior Chrysaor. This ancient image of matriarchy fell under masculine control when it became part of Athena’s armour, as the goddess, being a daughter of Zeus, is a representation of the patriarchy. It is also worth noting Medusa’s association with the underworld and the beyond, given the presence of serpents and her female connection with the forces of nature. Medusa is a demonic figure who inspires terror, while at the same time an amulet against death.