‘Percy Jackson and the Olympians’: Was Medusa Truly Evil? Explaining the Tragic Character

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The world of Greek mythology truly is full of different stories that can make us rethink how we should look at other people and the different things that they go through. This was the same thing for Medusa in ‘Percy Jackson and the Olympians’ as she was introduced as a villain whom Percy and his friends needed to go through on their journey to the Underworld. It is needless to say she became a threat to the heroes and their quest. But was Medusa actually evil?

  • Article Breakdown:
  • Medusa started out as a woman who was deeply devoted to Athena but was never able to get the same love from the goddess.
  • When Poseidon showed Medusa love, Athena got jealous and cursed Medusa to become a monster that no one could ever look at.
  • Basically, Medusa was never evil but was simply a tragic figure who became angry due to the things that the gods did to her.

Medusa loved and worshipped Athena

In episode 3 of ‘Percy Jackson and the Olympians,’ Percy, Annabeth, and Grover got sidetracked in their quest when they ran into the furies. This led them to a Satyr path that passed through Medusa’s home. Of course, Medusa’s lair was full of stone statues due to the fact that she was known to petrify anyone just by looking at them, thereby making her a dangerous monster.

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Nevertheless, instead of instantly becoming a threat to Percy and his allies, Medusa was the lesser of two evils because Percy and his friends chose between entering her lair or facing Alecto out in the open. They decided to go with Medusa while making sure to avoid eye contact with her. Surprisingly, Medusa was a bit nice to the heroes for a while because she actually needed something from them.

Medusa told Percy and his friends the story behind her monstrous form, as she wasn’t always a snake-haired creature that had the ability to turn everything she gazed at into stone. In fact, there was a deeper story related to her transformation, and it all started with the Greek gods.

When she was but a normal human hundreds of years ago, Medusa loved and worshipped Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom. However, the problem was that Athena never cared about Medusa at all. No matter how hard Medusa loved and worshipped her, Athena never gave Medusa the same kind of love and adoration.

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One day, however, another Greek god saw Medusa’s beauty. This was Poseidon, who we know is Percy Jackson’s father. Poseidon gave Medusa the love and adoration that she never got from Athena. It would make sense for Medusa to want to accept that love because she never got the same treatment from Athena.

It doesn’t make sense but Athena got angry at Medusa because Poseidon was willing to give her love. Athena’s anger was rooted in her pride as if she was a child who got angry after seeing another child playing with the toy that she threw away. But instead of getting angry at Poseidon, she channeled her rage toward Medusa, whom she cursed to become a monster whom no person could ever look at again.

As such, Athena was basically a jealous goddess who cursed an innocent woman who worshipped her to become a monster simply because another god decided to love her back. There was nothing in her backstory that suggested that she was evil. This was one of the things that Sally Jackson was trying to tell a younger Percy when they visited the museum together, as she probably already knew about the true story behind Medusa.

Medusa became a woman scorned

We established the fact that Medusa was never born a monster but simply became one due to the gods playing the role of gods who saw humans as things that they could toy with. However, while Medusa wasn’t evil, the fate that she suffered made her into a true monster who only harbored hatred in her heart.

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Medusa’s hatred wasn’t evident at the start because she could have petrified Annabeth, who we know is the daughter of Athena. However, when she tries to barter a deal with Percy to allow her to take Annabeth as a way of exacting her revenge on Athena, it becomes clear that Medusa is now a woman scorned due to the actions of the gods.

This goes to show just how much a person can change from being innocent to being scornful. Medusa’s life story is a cautionary tale of what happens when gods or those who are in power play with the lives of people beneath them. In Medusa’s case, she was a tragic figure who became a victim of the jealousy of a goddess.

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To some extent, Medusa’s descent into madness as a scornful monster can be understandable as she was an innocent player who simply wanted to love a goddess but never got her love back. Athena was the antagonist in Medusa’s life, and it goes without saying that her anger toward the goddess was quite understandable. 

It’s just that she never should have tried to channel her anger on the children of the gods who toyed with her. We know how that worked out for her, as Percy and Annabeth worked together to chop her head off.

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