149 Medusa

This minor planet is named after Medusa, one of the three Gorgon sisters (with Stheno and Euryale) from Greek myth. In early myths, she was a monster, perhaps a daughter of Phorcys and Ceto, with snakes for hair and a visage so terrifying it would turn any who saw her into stone.

In later tellings, such as Ovid's, Medusa was a beautiful woman who was raped by Poseidon in a temple of Athena, and then Athena turned her into the snake-ish paralyzing monster we all know and love. Ovid interpreted this as Athena punishing Medusa justly, probably because Ovid was a bitch. Later feminist interpretations of this event are such that Athena was granting protection to Medusa, such that no man may look upon her again. This reading makes more sense to me than the goddess of wisdom blaming a mortal for being raped by a god.

In any case, Perseus gets a lot of neat tools from the gods and beheads her. When she dies, Pegasus and Chrysaor, her children by Poseidon, are finally born. Then her head goes on some adventures, being carried by Perseus as a weapon, and then ending up on the Aegis, the shield of Athena.

The symbol of this asteroid is the gorgon head, as seen in the symbol for the constellation Perseus, over a female cross.

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