A Gorgon (from the Greek gorgos, meaning 'terrible') is a fierce or unpleasant-looking woman.
In classical mythology there were three Gorgons, with serpents on their heads instead of hair. Medusa was their chief; the others, Stheno and Euryale, were immortal. They also had brazen claws and vast, grinning mouths with monstrous teeth. Their glance turned their victims into stone.
According to legend, originally the Gorgons were the three beautiful daughters of the sea deities Phorcys and Ceto; sisters of the Graeae. Medusa was seduced by Poseidon and lay with him in a temple dedicated to Athene. Furious, Athene transformed Medusa and her sisters into the Gorgons.
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Sources: (1) Cooper, J.C. (Editor), Brewer's Book of Myth and Legend, Cassell Academic Publishing; (2) Evans, Bergen, Dictionary of Mythology, Dell Publishing Co., Inc.; (3) Dixon-Kennedy, Mike, Encyclopedia of Greco-Roman Mythology, ABC-Clio Inc. Publishers.
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