Medusa was the eldest of the three gorgon sisters, having snakes for hair and a pair of leathery bats' wings on her back. 1 The myth says that anyone who looked at her would turn into stone, which begs the question: how would anybody know how she looked? Maybe she had snakes for hair, maybe not; maybe she had candy canes or red wigglers; none of the eye-witnesses were talking. We can see why the snakes were frightening but I’m not sure exactly what terror the wings held. Maybe if something’s really ugly, the last thing you want is to have it flying around. Imagine a flying warthog. Anyway, there’s a couple of myths about Medusa’s origin: one is that her parents were a couple of sea-gods, Phorcys and Ceto, but the one I like is that she was once amazingly beautiful. 2 She outraged the goddess Athena by doing a horizontal tango with Poseidon outside the temple, so the goddess made her into a monster. After that, Medusa lived with her two sisters Stheno and Euryale, and never seemed to make trouble for anyone until Perseus came and killed her.
1. But she had a terrific personality.
2. Stories where gorgeous people suffer make the rest of us feel better about ourselves.