Monday, October 18, 2010

Creature Feature: Medusas

Many legends are told about the snake headed women called the Medusas.  Obviously, few have seen the creature and lived to tell the tale, but peasants say that the crumbling statues found amongst the many ruins which dot the world are a tribute to their existence.  According to the tales which woodsman tell around their campfires, Medusas are women cursed for their vanity or -- depending on the teller of the tale -- their infidelity.

Such creatures, it is said, lair in the deep places of the world where the Sun's light does not reach.  On moonlit nights they come to the surface world to find a mate, but are always disappointed when their prospective lovers are turned to stone by their ghastly visage.  They wonder the World immortal, cursed to never again know the touch of a lover, the smooth skin of a human being.

Some bards claim that this is far from the truth.  Yes the Medusa lives underground and yes it only leaves during the night hours, but it does so under the new moon, when not light shown.  According to these lurid yarns, Medusas attempt to blind unwary travelers on such nights. Once blinded, they are taken back to the Medusa's chthonic abode.  There they serve as slaves to the Medusa for the rest of their miserable days, performing -- at her bidding -- the most horrible of acts.  It is usually said that men are the subject of such attacks, though if the bard feels the crowd is raunchy enough, and is willing to risk burning, they are known to tell other tales as well.

The Church is wary of such stories.  The existence of these terrible monsters is undeniable, for they are attested in the works of the great scholars of the Empire.  However, the Church disagrees with the common people over the nature of the Medusa's curse, as well as a great many other things.  Those who take up God's call and go into the wilderness to do battle with the forces of Chaos claim that Medusas are part of a whole race of creatures who live in a great underground city ruled by a strange serpent god.  Such stories are often dismissed, as few would believe someone who claimed to see a Medusa, and those that do speak of such a city are almost universally mad.

Medusas are quite popular figures.  Art depicting them may be found across the world.  Such art often depicts Medusas in more or less humorous ways.  It is not uncommon to see a lord's hall decorated with statues of Medusas who supposedly saw themselves in a mirror or friezes depicting some of the more bawdy legends.  Medusas are also commonly used as symbols of infidelity, and many a scorned tavern keeper has named his establishment "the Medusa's Head" after his wife ran away with a rich merchant.

1 comment:

  1. "and many a scorned tavern keeper has named his establishment "the Medusa's Head" after his wife ran away with a rich merchant."

    You know, this one sentance really summarises for me why I like this blog so much. It's not just the original angle you take on old ideas but also the very excellent, darkly morbid, ironic sense of humour that accompanies them. Very Old School.