Oct. 29th, 2010

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Already answered )

6. A goddess

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~ Medusa ~


Although Medusa could arguably be called a monster rather than a goddess, I think the title fits well enough. I remember first reading the myth of Medusa when I was in primary school, and thinking she was awesome. Because she was a girl, and she was scary and powerful. Also, snakes for hair. Fuck yeah.

Some thoughts on the Deeper Meanings of the Medusa Myth from this website:

Many have connected Medusa with sexuality, men as well as women. Freud, as you might expect, was one such theorist, linking her to the male fear of castration. Earlier, Goethe and Dante both interpreted Medusa as a dangerous seductive force to be resisted. One feminist perspective is that Medusa represents the personification of rape. Another feminist perspective, put forth by Page DuBois in her 1988 book Sewing the Body: Psychoanalysis and Ancient Representations of Women, is that Medusa symbolizes women's subversive, self-sufficient sexuality.

But the most horrifying psychosexual explanation, detailed among other places by Ellen D. Reeder in her 1996 book Pandora: Women in Classical Greece, is that the fundamental meaning of Medusa is a symbol of male fear of devouring female sexual potency. Building upon Freud's earlier thinking, Reeder theorized that Medusa's snaky locks represent pubic hair, her face female genitalia. In the mythology, Reeder points out, only men are turned into stone by gazing at Medusa.

This has to do, according to Barbara G. Walker in her 1983 book The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets, with what's been termed the "toothed vagina." This symbol of biting, devouring female sexuality is thought have originated with the primordial fear that a woman's privates might amputate a man's privates during sex. This superstition, according to Walker, has existed in many different cultures around the world throughout history, among other places in China, Polynesia, Persia, the Islamic world, and medieval Christianity. And perhaps, even if subliminally, it existed in ancient Greece and Rome as well.

The psychosexual explanation ties in with how the Medusa image was used in patriarchal Greece and Rome. It could well be, at least on some level, that it's behind the fright caused by looking at the Medusa image and why men placed it on their armor when fighting other men and on coins when trading with other men.


Still to come )

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