Study Guide

Medusa - Monster-Human Alliance

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Monster-Human Alliance

Some days, you’ll find Medusa hanging out with her monster friends by the cafeteria doors. They pass out flyers and pins to anyone who will take them. The pins say, "Make Love Not War." You see, Medusa and her friends are part of the Monster-Human Alliance club and are trying to promote peace and understanding between humans and monsters. The only problem is that anytime anyone turns to take a flyer from Medusa, they accidentally look her in the eye and turn to stone. But it’s a start.

Grendel and Grendel's Mom

In the epic Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf, Grendel is a man-eating demon that lives in the land of the Spear-Danes and attacks King Hrothgar's mead-hall, Heorot, every evening. The narrator of Beowulf claims that Grendel's motivation is hearing Hrothgar's bard sing songs about God's creation of the world, which rubs his demonic nature the wrong way. Whatever the reason, every night Grendel slaughters more Danes and feeds on their corpses after tearing them limb from limb. Although he can't be harmed by the blade of any edged weapon, Grendel finally meets his match when the Geatish warrior Beowulf takes him on in a wrestling match.

The poet explains that Grendel and his mother are the descendants of the Biblical Cain, which suggests not only that they are part of a larger religious or supernatural scheme of evil, but also that they are connected with one of the worst things possible in tribal culture – fratricide, or the killing of a brother. However, at other points in the poem, Grendel seems less like a Biblical figure and more like a ghost, a demon, or something else that belongs in a Halloween-themed horror movie.


Polyphemus is the famous Cyclops and son of Poseidon. A Cyclops is a giant monster with one huge eyeball in the middle of his head. He lives with his fellow Cyclopses on an island in Sicily where they feasts on raw flesh. Mmmmmm. Polyphemus is best known for capturing Odysseus and his men in Homer’s Odyssey. Once the Greeks blind him and make their escape, Polyphemus calls in a favor from daddy. Ruh roh. This means years and years of torture for Odysseus (and his men, until they die). Basically, Polyphemus is the explanation for Poseidon’s outrage at Odysseus.


In the Odyssey, Homer (not Simpson, but the other one) tells us that Circe is a beautiful sorceress with a tendency to turn men into animals when they venture onto her island. She is an immortal woman with magical powers who (after turning his men into pigs) convinces Odysseus to stay with her on her island for one year. Her dad is Helios, god of the Sun, and her mom is an Oceanid (kind of like a mermaid goddess). She lives on her island attended by ladies-in-waiting and surrounded by animals who were once men. Sounds like a sweet life, no? No, maybe not. She's pretty lonely.

In the Odyssey, Circe vanishes into thin air when Odysseus announces that he's going to leave her and continue his journey homeward.

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