Some of the countries were Medusa is popular include the United States, Italy, China, and Japan. Latin Americans are also aware of the mythological character. It is featured in school curriculums in the UK, Poland, Australia, Argentina, and France, among others.
- According to Vice and Prospect Magazine, the character of Medusa is one of the most popular characters from Greek mythology. People across the world know her even if they can’t recall the entire myth. Part of her popularity can be attributed to many depictions in popular culture.
The United States
- In the US, the Medusa character grew more popular due to its connection to the #MeToo movement. Specifically, this year, the sculpture “Medusa with the Head of Perseus” was unveiled in Manhattan, NY.
- The sculpture, created by Italian-Argentinian Luciano Garbati in 2008, was inspired by Benvenuto Cellini’s “Perseus With the Head of Medusa” from the 18th century.
- As Garbati’s work reverses the original myth by giving Medusa a victory over Perseus, it was quickly adopted as “an icon of justice” for victims of sexual assault.
- At the same time, it created a polemic around whether such a violent character is appropriate as a symbol of the #MeToo movement.
- It is worth noting that the sculpture created social media buzz and went viral long before it was unveiled in New York City. It was noticed immediately after the artist posted a photo on social media.
- The symbol of Medusa is particularly widespread in Italian culture. It is included in regional symbols, fashion, contemporary literary discourse, and both older and relatively recent art.
- Medusa has been featured on the flag of Sicily since the 13th century. She can be found on regional coinage, door handles, temples, and sarcophagi, which increases her popularity.
- The head of Medusa is featured in the logo of one of the most famous Italian designers, Versace. According to an analysis by Gevril Group, “she encompasses Versace’s taste for tradition and classical nuance along with his desire to astonish audiences with designs that are striking in their brilliance, originality and style.” It was likely inspired by the Sicilian flag.
- At the same time, most of the most popular art pieces that feature Medusa were created by Italian artists, with many of them still exhibited in Italian museums. They include works by Cellini, Canova, Bernini, and Caravaggio, as well as by contemporary artists such as Garbati.
- The myth of Medusa and Perseus is also regularly mentioned in Italian media. It is also getting new interpretations, for example, in children’s theater.
- Both Chinese and Japanese articles suggest that Medusa is popular in China and Japan thanks to being featured in games and animated movies. However, a thorough analysis of the subject would require diving deep into the sources that are written in Asian languages.
- One article in the Chinese media states that it is the most well-known mythological Gorgon, while the other lists several depictions that are popular in China, including the characters in “Marvel,” “Soul Eater,” “Fights Break Sphere,” and “Saint Seya.”
- National curriculums across various countries usually do not specify which myths are included. For instance, the most recent document for schools in the UK only includes statements like “pupils schould be increasing their familiarity with a wide range of books, including fairy stories, myths and legends, and retelling some of these orally.”
- However, to provide some insight into the topic, we decided to include examples from specific schools and regions.
- The website of South Harringay School (London, UK) includes information that year five students have been learning about ancient myths during English lessons, focusing on the myth “Perseus and Medusa.”
- Websites of several primary schools in Poland, including the one in Gliwice and the one in Wasilkow, provide information on students working on the myth of Perseus and Medusa. It is also suggested that the myth is likely to be featured on final exams.
- The most recent syllabus for K-10 education in New South Wales, Australia, includes an interpretation of the myth of Medusa as one of the suggested texts.
- Similarly, the last version of the curriculum in Buenos Aires, Argentina, lists the myth of Medusa and Perseus.
- Several French schools, including Ecole Primaire Jean Flechon and École Maternelle 34 rue Manin, mention Medusa and Perseus in their teaching materials and reports.
- Please note that those are only selected examples. As searching for syllabuses, teaching programs, and reports in multiple languages is complicated, we could not provide a comprehensive list.
- In addition, some materials are dated, and, unlike with the examples above, it’s impossible to verify on the schools’ or departments’ websites if they are still relevant. For instance, there is a collection of dictations by the regional department of education in Madrid that includes Medusa and Perseus. However, we couldn’t find a link on the department’s website, so it is unclear if it is still recommended.
Additional Information on Awareness
- Due to language and time limitations, it is impossible to provide a comprehensive list of all countries that are aware of Medusa. The above findings lead us to the assumption that it is a well-known symbol in most English-speaking countries and European countries, as well as in Asia.
- There are indications of awareness of Medusa in Latin America. A large online marketplace, available in multiple Latin American countries, Mercado Libre, sells Medusa-inspired items in Mexico, Argentina, and Colombia.
- At the same time, the myth continues to be analyzed in the local press. An example is this article in Mexican media, which connects the story of Medusa with the problem of sexual abuse.
- Despite our attempts to confirm the awareness of Medusa in the Middle East and Africa, we couldn’t find any relevant sources in local media and online marketplaces. However, using a translator was a limitation to thoroughly analyzing such sources.