1. Medusa is one of the Gorgons.
Gorgons are winged human females with a hideous face and living venomous snakes in place of hair. So if you are aware of Medusa, this should sound familiar.
2. She is the granddaughter of the Earth (Gaia) and the Ocean (Oceanus).
Kinda cool, right?
3. And her parents are Phorkys and Keto, god and goddess of the sea, who represented the seas dangers.
Bonus fact: Ketos also refer to sea monsters.
4. Medusa’s gaze turned men to stone.
Some versions of the myth say this is because of her monstrous ugliness; others because of her incredible beauty.
5. She has two sisters, Sthenno and Euryale.
Medusa was the only mortal of the three. As far as I could find, there is no explanation for this, so I figure it’s kind of like how some of us are just born muggle and others get to be wizards.
6. Medusa’s monstrous form was said to be punishment from Athena for seducing Poseidon.
Of course other versions say Poseidon raped her, so … victim blame much?
7. It’s said her monstrous character followed, as the world turned against her.
A pre-Frankenstein's monster, if you will.
8. In her despair, Medusa fled to Africa.
As she wandered, snakes dropped from her hair. This is how Africa got its venomous reptiles. Still no explanation for Australia.
9. Medusa was ultimately beheaded, of course, by Perseus.
Her sisters tried to avenge her, but Perseus dodged them by using Hades’ cap, which made him invisible.
10. Perseus, classy guy that he was, continued to use the head as a weapon.
Even after her death, Medusa’s head retained its ability to turn people to stone. Eventually Perseus gave it to Athena, who placed it on her shield.
11. And then she became a symbol.
In classical antiquity, Medusa’s head came to appear on the Gorgoneion, which was an evil-averting device. Not a bad ultimate legacy, albeit from a pretty rough life.