Why Athena Help Perseus To cut-off Medusa’s Head
The story of Perseus and Medusa is perhaps one of the most well-known stories in the entirety of Greek mythology and it’s definitely one that elicits a very strong emotional reaction whenever I discuss either Medusa or Athena I always see the exact same question in the comment section why would Athena help Medusa but then help Perseus kill her now this of course refers back to the role that Athena played in Medusa’s transformation specifically the version where Athena turned Medusa into a Gorgon as a means of protection Athena than helping Perseus kill Medusa doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to a lot of people why give someone the means to protect themselves if you’re just gonna kill them anyway now my problem with this specific question is not the question itself it’s that most people asking it don’t seem to want an answer they don’t want to examine the story they want to take the stance that Medusa was treated unfairly and so everything that followers must be this great injustice Perseus isn’t the hero of this story he’s just the villain Athena isn’t the goddess of wisdom she’s just jealous and evil I’m so upset that they killed my queen Medusa that I’m gonna ignore all of the other characters and whatever motives they may have because Medusa is the only one that matters now if you do approach a story from this bubble where Medusa is the only important character that the entire story centers around not only are you entirely wrong but you’ll never understand the story nor any of its characters for the sake of context persistant just walk into Medusa’s lair and kill her without any reason to summarize this story Perseus was sent by King Polydectes to retrieve Medusa’s head as a gift in the hopes that he would be slain in the process with Perseus out of the picture.
There would be no one left to stop him marrying his mother not trust in the king and wanting to avoid this entire situation Perseus accepted the request and vowed to bring back the gift that he promised if we look at the oldest depictions the Medusa was born a Gorgon so this entire transformation process never actually happened Medusa and Athena don’t really have a connection and so there’s no real conflict of interest when it comes to Athena then help in Perseus the only version of the story where this question can even be applied to is where Athena transforms Medusa because she wanted to help her because here you can make the argument that assist in Perseus effectively undoes everything that she had previously done where this argument kind of falls flat on its face is the fact of other characters in this story and Medusa is certainly not the central figure this is very much Perseus his story retrieving the head of Medusa is just one small part of his overall journey Perseus needin help then turn to Athena who along with the other gods gave him various trinkets and weapons to aid him on his quest many also believe that Athena guided he sword when he actually beheaded Medusa so why exactly did Athena help Perseus after she had already helped Medusa first of all with Sina was a hero’s patron and Perseus wasn’t just any hero he was also her half-brother so when a hero who also happens to be your brother comes to you in need of assistance a goddess as loyal as Athena would never turn away family and refused her duties because she had previously helped someone else the family comes first as a sentiment and I’m sure many people agree with and it’s very likely that Athena would always prioritize Perseus over Medusa just because she helped Medusa.
Once doesn’t mean she owes her an eternity of protection it’s also entirely possible that Athena made a mistake Medusa’s transformation may not have had a desired effect or outcome it’s no secret that after a transformation Medusa’s life would have changed and most likely not for the best she would have been driven into isolation and even hunted as a trophy not a life that sounds particularly enjoyable what was meant as a way to give Medusa the power to protect herself ended up just completely isolating her from the world around her Athena perhaps regretting her decision could have seen helping Perseus as a way of releasing Medusa from what she perceived to be a miserable existence while still being able to help Perseus at the same time or maybe Athena being as pragmatic as she was weight each alternative and decided that Medusa’s head would do more good than she would be capable of while alive deciding that it would be for the greater good there are numerous reasons why Athena would help Perseus kill Medusa but it mostly just depends on which interpretation of the story that you choose to believe realistically there’s no real way for us to know exactly why and these are just some of my own theories so feel free to agree or disagree but if you do have your own theories then please share them so I guess this is where I segue into plug in our book for those who don’t know a good friend of mine and I have been working on a book based on Greek mythology that retells some of our favorite stories one of the stories details Medusa’s life as a mortal and the events that led to her transformation. It’s a take on Medusa that we don’t really see much and I think it’s one of the rare occasions where she’s actually given a personality.