Medusa, who may also have been known by the name of Petra, was a female gorgon who occasionally took on human forms and is now, to one extent or another, a ghost.
Medusa was originally a gorgon, a monstrous being from Ancient Greece. Though not as ugly as other gorgons, she had snakes for hair like them, as well as the ability (sometimes more of a curse) to turn whoever she made eye-contact with into stone. She was unable to look at herself in mirrors, as they would crack; her frustration with being unable to look at herself in a mirror led her to create a Magic Mirror which she believed reflected her true self, but which actually showed her how she wanted to see herself; the Mirror's magic was flawed, leading its user to gaze at it with such yearning that they were eventually absorbed into the Mirror.
After saving him from drowning, Medusa developed an infatuation with the young demigod Hercules and made a deal with Hades to turn herself human long enough to befriend him. However, she eventually backed out of the deal when Hercules discovered the truth and still agreed to treat her as a friend; she was given a pair of enchanted glasses by Aphrodite which cancelled out her death-glare. However, a little later in his heroic career, Hercules battled an enraged Medusa in her Lair for unclear reasons, eventually petrifying her by reflecting her own stare back at her using his shield.
The petrified Medusa was eventually dug up by archeologist Walter Gracey, who believed that the Gorgon he'd found had been “Petra”, a half-human sister to the three more famous Gorgons, and, like them, the daughter of Poseidon; Doctor Gracey believed she had been tricked by her spiteful sisters into petrification, out of jealousy for Petra's beautiful, human-like looks. Whatever the truth of Doctor Gracey's research, he brought the petrified head of the Gorgon back to Gracey Manor and, haunted by her restless spirit, painted a portrait of how she might have looked in life, in human form. When Gracey tried to present his findings, however, he found that the head had crumbled to dust, the spirit of Medusa having found a new home in the portrait, now a haunted Changing Portrait.[FANWORK]
The Changing Portrait continued to hang in the Portrait Gallery of the Haunted Mansion, and a painting of her stone-like monstrous form, seemingly haunted as well, became one of the Sinister Eleven. In 2016, during Captain Gore's reign of terror over the Mansion, Medusa was one of the ghosts who had rallied to his cause and served as his henchpeople, displaying the ability to climb out of her picture-frame to do so. An identically-haunted portrait of Medusa is also in evidence in Phantom Manor, and a mosaic of Medusa, made to come alive by malicious spirits, is also one of the exhibits in Lord Henry Mystic's Mystic Manor.
Behind the scenes
Medusa is believed to have first appeared in Disney stories via her Changing Portrait in The Haunted Mansion, which opened in 1969. However, Marc Davis's original three-phase version of the portrait was prominently featured four years earlier in the portion of the TV special Disneyland 10th Anniversary which discussed then then-in-development Haunted Mansion project.
Notably, the appearance of Medusa in the PlayStation 1 Hercules video game gives her a design nearly identical to the heavyset Gorgon who attacks Hercules in a brief scene of the original animated feature, as part of the Zero to Hero song montage. It is unclear whether that Gorgon was intended to be Medusa at the time, but Hercules: The Animated Series gave a completely different, more slender design (more consistent with The Hautned Mansion) to Medusa, while identifying the heavyset gorgon as her older sister Stheno.
- Jennifer Love Hewitt (Hercules and the Gorgon)
Notes & References
- Better Haunts & Graveyards.
- Hercules and the Gorgon (1999).
- The Magic Mirror of Mad Medusa (2009).
- Hercules: The Video Game (1999).
- The Haunted Mansion (Disneyland) (1969).
- The Haunted Mansion (Walt Disney World) (1971).
- Disney Kingdoms' Haunted Mansion (2016).
- Phantom Manor (1992).
- Mystic Manor (2013).