In Greek mythology, Medusa was one of the three monstrous Gorgons, generally described as winged human females with snakes in place of hair. She is spoken of in the Roman poet Ovid’s "Metamorphoses"as lovely —until she and Poseidon copulated in Athena’s temple. Athena then punished her for this violation by turning her into a monstrous creature who could turn people to stone with a simple gaze.
Medusa was beheaded by the Greek hero Perseus, who thereafter used her head, which retained its petrifying abilities, as a weapon. He gave it to the goddess Athena to place on her shield. She is rumored to have remained a priestess to Athena after her death and was risen with fresh hair.