Chief of the Gorgons. Her head was cut off by Perseus (2 syl.), and Minerva placed it in her aegis. Everyone who looked on this head was instantly changed into stone.
The tale is that Medusa, famous for her hair, presumed to set her beauty above that of Minerva; so the jealous goddess converted her rival's hair into snakes, which changed to stone anyone who looked thereon. The most famous painting of Medusa is by Leonardo da Vinci; it is called his chef d'oeuvre.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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