Perseus and Medusa
In a Nutshell
Brave, handsome hero sets off to slay the evil, hideous monster. We're guessing you've seen a story a like this before – and you loved it. It's pretty much one of most popular plots there is. For real, like every single comic book, comic book movie, action move, or other summer blockbuster follows the same basic story. If the hero is the right kind of cool and the villain is the right kind of wicked, people line up around the street to watch the battle go down.
And this isn't a new thing. The ancient Greeks loved heroic stories. Take the story of Perseus and Medusa, for example. Clever young hero hunts down a dreaded, snake-haired monster? Yes, please. Perseus may have been the first of Greece's monster slaying heroes, but he definitely wasn't the last. Theseus kills the minotaur, Odysseus blinds a Cyclops, and Heracles wreaks havoc on a hydra, a hell-hound, and a giant boar among other monstrous foes.
People just can't get enough of watching ugly monsters get what's coming to them. We're guessing that's why the story of Perseus was used as the basis of both the 1981 and 2010 versions of Clash of the Titans, not to mention important chunks of the Percy Jackson series.
Explore the ways this myth connects with the world and with other topics on Shmoop
- Check out the Roman poet Ovid's take on the tale in The Metamorphoses.
- Click here to see what Shmoop has to say about Perseus' namesake, Percy Jackson, who also defeats Medusa and uses her head to save his beloved mom.
- Shmoop ranks Medusa's head among the top 12 best contraptions in literature and mythology. Click here to find out the pros and cons of this nifty weapon.
- Medusa isn't the only scary lady who can turn people into stone – the White Witch of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe also has that power.
- The ancient Greek playwright Aeschylus frequently compared the murderous, cheating Clytemnestra to Medusa in his famous tragedy The Libation Bearers.