Medusa is a monstrous snake-woman who possessed snakes for hair and the ability to turn any living being that she gazed upon to stone thanks to a curse put on her by the Olympian Goddess Athena.
Born to the sea god Phorcys and his sister Ceto, Medusa was a golden-haired beautiful maiden who was devoted to a life of celibacy as a priestess of Athena; however, her beauty attracted the attention of one of Athena's rivals, Poseidon, the God of the Sea.
While attempting to remain loyal to her god, Medusa was unable to resist Poseidon's charms and she eventually fell in love with him; letting the ocean god disrobe her within Athena's temple and breaking her oath of celibacy as Poseidon fornicated with her at the temple's altar. For this offence, Athena turned Medusa into a gorgon like her sisters and turned each lock of Medusa's beautiful hair into a venomous snake; her once gentle, love-inspiring eyes turned into blood-shot, furious orbs, which excited fear and disgust in the mind of the onlooker; and her former roseate hue and milk-white skin assumed a loathsome greenish tinge.
Seeing herself transformed into such a repulsive creature, Medusa fled her home, never to return. Wandering about, abhorred, dreaded, and shunned by the rest of the world, she turned into a character worthy of her outer appearance.
In addition, Athena placed a curse upon her so that anybody she gazed upon would be turned to stone.
When Perseus, hero and son of Zeus and Danaë (Princess of Argos), learned that King Polydectes, ruler of the island of Seriphos, had fallen in love with his mother, Perseus believed Polydectes was less than honourable and protected his mother from him. In an attempt to remove Perseus from his mother's side, Polydectes plotted to send Perseus away in disgrace.
He held a large banquet where each guest was expected to bring a gift. Polydectes requested that the guests bring horses, under the pretense that he was collecting contributions for the hand of Hippodamia, "tamer of horses". Perseus had no horse to give, so he asked Polydectes to name the gift he wanted he would not refuse to give it. Polydectes held Perseus to his promise and demanded the head of Medusa.
Athena instructed Perseus to find the Hesperides, who were entrusted with weapons needed to defeat the Gorgon. Following Athena's guidance, Perseus sought the Graeae, sisters of the Gorgons, to demand the whereabouts of the Hesperides. The Graeae were three perpetually old women, who had to share a single eye. As the women passed the eye from one to another, Perseus snatched it from them, holding it for ransom in return for the location of the nymphs. When the sisters led him to the Hesperides, he returned what he had taken.
From the Hesperides he received a knapsack to safely contain Medusa's head. Zeus gave him an adamantine sword and Hades' helm of darkness to hide. Hermes lent Perseus winged sandals to fly, and Athena gave him a polished shield. Perseus then proceeded to the Gorgons' cave where he came upon Medusa sleeping. By viewing Medusa's reflection in his polished shield, he safely approached and cut off her head.
The other two Gorgons pursued Perseus, but, wearing his helm of darkness, he escaped.
On his journey home, Perseus stopped at Ethiopia where the kingdom of King Cepheus and Queen Cassiopeia was being tormented by Poseidon's sea monster, Cetus. Perseus slew the beast and won their daughter, Andromeda's, hand in marriage. However, Andromeda was already betrothed, which caused a contestation to break out, resulting in Perseus using Medusa's head to turn her betrothed to stone.
Before his return to his home of Seriphos, Perseus also met the titan Altas, who he turned to stone with Medusa's head after some quarrelsome words, thus creating the Atlas Mountains of North Africa. Also during the journey home, Medusa's head spilled some blood on the earth which formed into Libyan vipers that killed the Argonaut Mospos.
When Perseus finally returned home to his mother, Perseus avenged himself by turning Polydectes and his court to stone with Medusa's head. After Perseus was finished with Medusa's head, he gave it to Athena, who adorned her shield and breastplate with it.
Centuries later, Medusa was resurrected by her sisters with Circe's help.
Enraged over Athena's frequent condemnation of her, Medusa sought vengeance through attempting to destroy Athena's current champion, Wonder Woman.
She first attacked the White House and battled Wonder Woman, who was there on a diplomatic mission. She then later returned and attacked the Themysciran Embassy in New York City, turning a young boy to stone during the attack. Greatly angered over this, Wonder Woman nearly killed the gorgon, but when Medusa called out to Ares, challenging her in his name, Ares intervened and forced Diana to accept the challenge.
The battle took place at the Yankee Stadium, where Ares transmitted a video feed of the fight to the world. To avoid Medusa's gaze, Wonder Woman had to fight blind, first using a cloth and later blinding herself with snake venom. Ultimately, Wonder Woman was victorious although blinded and Medusa was decapitated once again.
Medusa's head was returned to Athena, who intended to use it as part of her takeover of Mount Olympus, being used to turn Zeus' champion Briareos to stone.
- Medusa is the final foe in the Underworld Trials operation.
- She is one of the possible bosses in the Stabilizer Fragmentation event.
- If a player character is immune to status effects (e.g. after using Shatter Restraints), Medusa's petrifying gaze will change their palette to stone without impeding their ability to move or use any action.
- While her gaze turns people into stone, legend says that Medusa's tears can reverse the affliction and cure numerous other magically-induced curses.
- In her despair, Medusa fled to Africa, where, while wandering restlessly from place to place, young snakes dropped from her hair; that is how, according to the ancient Greeks, Africa became a hotbed of venomous reptiles.
- While Medusa’s sisters, Stheno and Euryale, were immortal, Medusa was born mortal.
- Chrysaor, the giant with a golden sword, and the winged horse Pegasus were Medusa's sons conceived from her union with Poseidon. However, she was unable to give birth to them due to Athena's curse and so they remained within her until her death at Perseus' hands, which saw them released from their mother's body.
- A story says that Heracles acquired a lock of Medusa’s hair from Athena and gave it to the daughter of Cepheus, Sterope, to protect the town of Tegea from being attacked. Her hair held the same powers as her head so that when it was exposed it caused a storm which chased away the foes.