A to Z Challenge Folklore

Gorgon #folklore #AtoZChallenge

F is for Fearsome

Learn more about the challenge here.

I’m doing folklore and book review posts to reach and please a larger audience. Previous years have shown select interest in both and to minimise blogging throughout the year, I’m focusing my efforts on April.

If you’d rather check out my book review for today, go here.

Learn more about the A to Z Challenge here.

Besides Medusa and the various depictions of her in books, film and television, I had no idea there were more of her kind until I read about it in a Rick Riordan novel…

Gorgon. Image credit.


Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology edited by William Smith [1849]

GORGO and GO′RGONES (Gorgô and Gorgones). Homer knows only one Gorgo, who, according to the Odyssey (xi. 633), was one of the frightful phantoms in Hades: in the Iliad (v. 741, viii. 349, xi. 36; comp. Virg. Aen. vi. 289), the Aegis of Athena contains the head of Gorgo, the terror of her enemies. Euripides (Ion, 989) still speaks of only one Gorgo, although Hesiod (Theog. 278) had mentioned three Gorgones, the daughters of Phorcys and Ceto, whence they are sometimes called Phorcydes or Phorcides. (Aeschyl. Prom. 793, 797; Pind. Pyth. xii. 24; Ov. Met. v. 230.) The names of the three Gorgones are Stheino (Stheno or Stenusa), Euryale, and Medusa (Hes. l. c.; Apollod. ii. 4. § 2), and they are conceived by Hesiod to live in the Western Ocean, in the neighbourhood of Night and the Hesperides. But later traditions place them in Libya. (Herod. ii. 91; Paus. ii. 21. § 6.) They are described (Scut. Here. 233) as girded with serpents, raising their heads, vibrating their tongues, and gnashing their teeth; Aeschylus (Prom. 794. &c., Choëph. 1050) adds that they had wings and brazen claws, and enormous teeth. On the chest of Cypselus they were likewise represented with wings. (Paus. v. 18. § 1.)

Gorgon. Image credit.

Encyclopedia of Beasts and Monsters in Myth, Legend and Folklore by Theresa Bane

Euryale (u-ri-a-le)

Variations: Euruale

One of the three GORGONS from classical Greek mythology, Euryale (“far howling,” “far roaming,” or “wide leaping”) and her sister STHENO (“forceful” or “mighty one”) were each immortal but their sister MEDUSA (“the mad” and “the queen”) was not. Born the daughters of Phorcys and Ceto, the once beautiful Euryale and her transformed sisters lived in Lybia; she is described as having brazen claws and serpents for hair. She and her sisters are so vile to look upon, anyone who sees them is transformed into stone.

Gorgo, plural GORGONS

Variations: Gorgo the MEDUSA

In The Odyssey, the epic Greek poem attributed to Homer, the greatest of Greek epic poets, only one gorgo (“fear”) is mentioned; she appears in the poem as one-eyed, rising up from a lake with a head full of hissing snakes for hair. The Greek poet Hesiod (ca. 750–650 BC) claimed there were three GORGONS, two of which were immortal—EURYALE (“far howling”) and STHENO (“strong”)—whereas the third, MEDUSA (“mad”), was not. An image of MEDUSA the Gorgo appears on the shield of the hero Agamenmon.

Gorgons (Gore-guns)

Variations: The Phorcydes

The Gorgons (“the grim ones”) were three demonic creatures from ancient Greek mythology; their names were EURYALE (“the far howler”), MEDUSA (“the queen”), and STHENO (“the mighty”). These sisters were born the daughters of the god of the sea Phorcys (also one of the Titans) and Ceto and were priestesses in the temple of Athena (Minerva). MEDUSA had sexual relations with the god Poseidon (Neptune) in the Athenian temple and in a fit of rage the goddess transformed the three sisters into the monstrous Gorgons. They were cursed with boar-like tusks; bronze claws; long, razor-sharp teeth; pockmarked faces; snakes for hair; and leathery wings. The Gorgons were so hideously ugly if a mortal were to look directly at them the fearful sight would turn a man to stone.

*More can be read in the book.

Gorgon. Image credit.

The Element Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures by John & Caitlín Matthews


The original Gorgon was an extremely primitive creature described in the earliest mythology of Greece. Generated by the Earth goddess Gaia to support the Gigantes in their battle against the gods of Olympus, it was killed by Athene, who buried its head beneath the foundations of the agora in Athens. Later, the name Gorgon was given to the three daughters of the gods Ceto and Phorcys. Originally beautiful, the women were transformed into hideous monsters by Athene after the god Poseidon seduced one of them, Medusa, in the goddess’ temple. They are said to be in the form of women with wings, with huge tusks that protrude from their mouths causing their tongues to protrude from their jaws. They also have snakes for hair, and a single glance from one of them can turn anyone who sees it into stone. Two of the Three Sisters, Eurale and Stheno remained immortal, but the hero Perseus killed Medusa.

*More can be read in the book.

Gorgon. Image credit.

Further Reading:

Gorgon. Image credit.

Folklore in a Nutshell by Ronel

The original gorgo was a creature created by Gaia to fight along the Gigantes against the Olympians, but was slain and buried beneath the agora in Athens by Athena. The head of this gorgo is on the aegis, Athena’s shield. The three gorgons are the daughters of Phorcys and Ceto. They were named Euryale, Stheno and Medusa. Only the first two were granted immortality as Medusa was slain by Perseus. They were at first beautiful young women, serving in the temple of Athena, until Poseidon set his sights on Medusa and had his way with her inside the temple. Athena, in a rage, turned all three sisters into gorgons with snake hair and hideous visages to boot so anyone who looked upon them were turned into stone. It isn’t clear whether they retained their human bodies or were changed to be part snake from the waist down, only “girded with serpents” along with their massive teeth and sharp claws.

Gorgon. Image credit.

Gorgon in Modern Culture

Monsters, Inc. Film

Gorgon. Image credit.

Celia Mae is a major character in Disney/Pixar‘s 2001 animated film Monsters, Inc. She is Mike Wazowski‘s Gorgon-Cyclops-Medusa-like girlfriend.

The snakes that make up her hair do not speak but express their emotions with the sounds they make. When they’re happy, they make chirping noises. When they’re mad, they rattle and hiss. They often reflect whatever emotion Celia feels: when she is happy or mad, they likely feel the same way. Regardless, they still appear to have minds of their own as shown when they briefly express terror when Celia considers getting a haircut and relief when Mike respectfully objects.

Learn more here.

Percy Jackson book series by Rick Riordan

Medusa, a gorgon. Image credit.
Euryale, a gorgon. Image credit.
Stheno, a gorgon. Image credit.

Gorgons are the three terrifying sisters turned into monsters by Athena.

Posing as a middle eastern lady named Aunty Em, Medusa tries to turn Percy JacksonAnnabeth Chase, and Grover Underwood into stone upon stumbling across her lair. Grover is the first to figure out that Medusa, not “Aunty Em,” is their hostess. He sees a statue that looks unusually like his deceased Uncle Ferdinand and recalls that his Uncle Ferdinand was turned to stone by the monster Medusa.

Medusa holds a grudge against Annabeth because she is the daughter of Athena, the one responsible for Medusa’s misery. Eventually, her head was chopped off by Percy Jackson (Just as the original Perseus) after a brief fight. 

When Chiron is explaining how the use of technology can be dangerous for demigods, he says that a demigod once tried to Google the Gorgons, causing them to appear.

Learn more here.

Disney’s Hercules

Medusa as a gorgon. Image credit

Medusa is a character from Hercules: The Animated Series. She is a lonely, young gorgon who becomes smitten with Hercules in the episode “Hercules and the Gorgon“.

Learn more here.

Wednesday TV series

Gorgons. Image credit

They resemble humans entirely except for the presence of snakes instead of hair on their heads. When the snakes are directly looked at, the viewer is temporarily turned to stone. All gorgons have been seen wearing turbans or beanies to avoid accidentally petrifying someone.

Learn more here.

Gorgon in My Writing

Origin of the Fae: Gorgon

The gorgon is a beautiful creature with snakes for hair that will turn anyone who looks upon them to stone. If it is an accident on the part of the gorgon, they can reverse the spell. There are male and female gorgons. The only difference between humans and gorgons, on the surface, is the snakes for hair. Thanks to Euryale, Stheno and Medusa, they got a bad reputation for having gardens filled with stone statues. Gorgons prefer solitude and staying in the Dark Lands under the Dark King’s protection. Too many humans have the wrong idea about gorgons and like to trophy hunt their heads.

Gorgon translated to Afrikaans: Gorgo/Gorgone.

See this fae in action in my writing:

Dark Fae (Origin of the Fae #7)

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Where did you first encounter gorgons? What do you think of this petrifying faery? Check out my Pinterest board dedicated to the subject.

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image credit https://pixabay.com/illustrations/ai-generated-fairy-wings-magic-8121013/

No-one writes about the fae like Ronel Janse van Vuuren.

7 thoughts on “Gorgon #folklore #AtoZChallenge”

  1. Disney’s Gorgon is certainly less threatening then the older, folklore versions.
    I loved studying Greek mythology back in high school, but like you, I learned a thing or two from Rick Riordan. 🙂
    Thanks for the read.

  2. My first experience with a gorgon was as a kid when I watched the old 1963 version of Jason and the Argonauts. Even though the animation was amusing so many decades later, I still absolutely loved the story and all the creatures. I’m pretty sure that’s where my love of mythology stemmed from. I just followed you on Pinterest, subscribed to your newsletter, and am looking forward to reading more of your work!

  3. I’ve read a story where in modern times Medusa has become a sculptor – the easy way! I did enjoy Percy Jackson. He has pointed a lot of children towards Greek mythology.

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