Medusa was a beautiful priestess of Athena. Dressed in green with her hair braided back, Medusa went about her duties in the temple of her patron deity. It was then that another god, and a rival to Athena, took notice of her.
Poseidon rose from the sea adjacent to Athens and made his way, disguised as a handsome mortal, to Athena’s temple. He found Medusa in her worship and took her by the hand. Surprised, she questioned his purpose. With eyes like the current that tears you violently under the waves, Poseidon made his request. “No,” she said, “Not here especially but nowhere else either.”
The prideful god paid no mind to her answer. He took what he wanted.
Athena, seeing this disgraceful act being performed in her temple, waited for Poseidon to leave Medusa there, crumpled on the floor and begging Athena’s mercy. The war goddess, with the expectant eyes of Olympus on her and without the option of punishing the real culprit, placed a curse upon Medusa to ensure that no man would harm her again.
Medusa's beautiful hair shifted and twisted into snakes, her skin twisted and boiled so it was permanently marred beyond recognition and her features rearranged themselves into an indescribably monstrous formation. Medusa, now a hideous creature, gave her final silent prayer to Athena. She went unseen from the temple to the hills.
Years later, in a time when Athena donned the shield Aegis adorned with Medusa’s monstrous face and when the sons of Zeus were seeking quests across the known world, one of those sons was granted a quest into the hills nearby Athens.
With gifts from the gods, Perseus, son of Zeus sent out to harm Medusa. Peacefully, in her cave, the monster slept. With an eye on his reflective shield, Perseus removed her head.