Medusa was a gorgon with the power the turn people to stone if they looked directly at her eyes.
She is a daughter of Phorcys and Keto, and was once a priestess of Athena. After Medusa and Poseidon desecrated Athena's virgin temple, Athena cursed Medusa and her sisters. Her hair was turned to snakes and anyone who would look upon her gaze would turn to stone. She was a beautiful woman before Athena cursed her. Her only company are her statues. She had a child with Poseidon, Chrysaor, who was born from her neck, and another child, Pegasus, who was born from her blood when Perseus beheaded her. However, some myths say that Pegasus was born from Poseidon and Demeter.
In a late version of the Medusa myth told by the Romans, Medusa was originally a ravishingly beautiful maiden, "the jealous aspiration of many suitors," priestess in Athena's temple, but when she and Poseidon were caught together in Athena's Temple, the enraged Athena transformed Medusa's beautiful hair to serpents and made her face so terrible to behold that the mere sight of it would turn onlookers to stone. Perseus describes Medusa's punishment by Athena as fair and well earned.