G is for Gorgons
|Jacek Malczewski [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons|
Medusa was the only mortal Gorgon, and therefore it was her head that King Polydektes commanded Perseus to cut off. He managed to decapitate Medusa with some help from the gods, and from her neck sprang the winged horse Pegasus and the giant Khrysaor.
It is said that they were so ugly, any man who saw their faces was turned to stone.
There are a couple of myths explaining why Medusa was the only mortal Gorgon, my favourite suggesting that she used to be a beautiful maiden who lived in the north where there was no sun. She prayed to Athena, asking for permission to visit the south to see the sun. When Athena refused, Medusa got angry and said that Athena was jealous of her beauty, so Athena punished her by giving her snakes for hair and cursing her so that anyone who saw her turned to stone.