Day 2 : Medusa’s Punishment

Medusa, the most beautiful of all the virgin priestesses of Athena carried on her duties much like the other maiden’s did. Unfortunately, when she had to leave the temple, she was regularly accosted by men wishing to bestow compliments on her, proposals of marriage and lewd gestures when she brushed them off.  She had dedicated her life as a young girl to Athena taking her vows seriously, knowing that the Goddess also had a short temper. She knew the tale of Arachne and never wanted to end up on the receiving end of the Goddess’s wrath.

Athena, the Goddess of wisdom also had a very petty side. When Medusa approached her about leaving the temple she refused her request. “Great Athena, could I please just stay in the temple and send other priestesses out to the market instead? I know so many enjoy the sights and the people. I could spend that time in prayer and reverence to you instead.” Medusa offered. “Why should I show you any more favor than I do the rest? Does the attention bother you so much or is it the temptation that stirs in your belly which makes you ashamed?” she hissed. “No, never that! My mind, body and soul are pure, I swear it again, here at your feet.” throwing herself on Athena’s sandals. “The answer is no. You will continue your duties as you have done so all this time.” she concluded.

Medusa’s beauty was like no other, and many about the town whispered how she was even more beautiful than their patron Goddess, which of course got back to the ears of Athena. Ever since then, she had held Medusa to a different standard, punishing her for something out of her control, constantly making her do things over, just because of her pretty face. Medusa was the most devout priestess which made the slight even harder to let go as Athena did have love for the girl but now their relationship was strained. Athena argued with herself that in time this would pass, and things would return to normal. Nevertheless she continued to be mean to the girl.

June marked the start of the Panathenaia, the most sacred of feasts dedicated to Athena. The task of arranging the festivities was given to no other than Medusa, she had a real talent for throwing parties and getting everyone involved,. Athena just had to show up, knowing it would all be taken care of.

The night of the feast, everything was perfect. The food came out on time, course after course of Athena’s favorite foods. The wine flowed freely while the entertainment was stellar. Acts of poetry, comedies and athletic feats, all performed in her honor. There was a troupe of young boys who performed gymnastics for the Goddess. The boys flipped, tumbled, and contorted their bodies all in the name of the Goddess. This was the first time anything like this had been performed, making the rest of the Gods jealous and Athena beam with satisfaction.

As the night carried on, duties of the temple still had to be carried out. After making sure all was in order, Medusa went to light the pyre at the foot of Athena’s primary altar. She cleaned, arranged the wood and stoked a fire quickly. Throwing incense in as an offering, she thanked the Goddess silently for letting her host this feast. She prayed that this would once again put Medusa in the Goddess’ good graces. She didn’t know what she did wrong but would do anything to rectify it. Finished with her task she walked to the back of the garden, towards the party.

Out of the darkness between the pillars, someone grabbed her arm, making her wince in pain. “Ouch!” she yelled. “What are you doing, let me go!” she demanded. The man was in a plain robe, completely covering his face and body. His grip tightened as he twisted her arm, trying to wrestle her to the ground but she fought him. Wiggling out of his grasp, she ran back towards the altar. “This is sacred ground. He wouldn’t dare get any closer when Athena is practically on the other side of this wall.” she told herself. The man struggled to his feet but barreled towards her. She ran but it was no use, he knocked her down, straddling her so that she would not move.

His breath was thick with wine and desire burned in his eyes. She clawed at them and he roared in pain, slapping her across the face. She successfully removed the robe from his head to reveal the face of Poseidon in a lust fueled rage. “My Lord! Please, stop this!” she pleaded. “Let me get you some help, I’m sorry, I thought you were a stranger.” “Oh, I don’t need any help, baby” he sneered, fumbling with the dress beneath her. Medusa tried one last thing as she struggled beneath the weight, unable to overpower him. She said, “My Lord, this is sacred ground and I am a virgin priestess of Athena, I would hate for her wrath to fall upon you over a misunderstanding. Please let me go, and we will never speak of this again, I swear it.”

Once again striking her in the face, “shaddap” he slurred, tearing the dress off her chest. Medusa began screaming and kicking her feet underneath him. She had to get away, this was not her fate. “Athena, please!” she yelled over and over again as he struck her and pawed at her body, the wine hindering his movements. She bucked her hips and he lost his balance. Quickly she got to her feet and took off running, but who could outrun a God. He shifted in front of her immediately trapping her with his arms. Dragging her back to the altar, “Oh no you don’t!, I’m getting my prize tonight.” he announced boastfully through her cries.

Flinging her onto the altar he shoved her dress up to her waist and began to undo his pants. Medusa, weak and hardly about to fight, cried and yelled. Holding on to the Sandal of Athena’s statue, she wailed. “Athena! He will rape me, if you do not come to my aide. Help me please….”

Back at the party Athena was talking and laughing with Hermes when suddenly she felt it, she heard Medusa calling her. Grabbing her shield and spear she vanished in a whirl of fabric and emerged from that same effigy that Medusa clung to.

She was too late. He was already inside of her, rutting like a pig while her priestess howled and fought. “Poseidon!” She barked, bashing his head with her shield. He toppled off of Medusa and onto the ground, holding his head in agony. Athena lifted her spear and rammed it through the tip of his now shriveled penis, catching the skin. Poseidon let out a scream that brought all the guests to the temple courtyard. Surrounded by his peers, naked and embarrassed he did the only thing he could to save face, he lied.

Through the tears he spun a story of how Medusa had answered his advances in the marketplace. That she flirted recklessly, even going as far as propositioning him so that he would take her away. “Athena, I swear, she came on to me! She was asking for it, practically begged me to take her right here. She even claims her beauty to surpass yours, the insolent bitch! I’m-” “Silence!” Athena commanded, digging her spear deeper into the earth making him cry out.

“Athena, stop this.” Zeus ordered. The crowd parted, letting him pass through. “Let him go” Zeus said, placing a hand on Athena’s shoulder. “No” she growled, shaking her head. “He must pay.” “The girl is a mortal. Send her away and be done with this, Poseidon is an Elder God, your senior in this case, you must release him” he instructed. Medusa’s cries were muffled by the crowd murmuring to each other about the events unfolding before their eyes but she could still hear her, clear as a bell toll. “I will not!” Athena challenged, standing her ground. Zeus whipped around to face her. “You will do as I say or face death for your treasonous act.” “Treason?” she laughed. “You have the audacity to charge me with treason while we stand on hallowed ground, my priestess defiled on my very own altar and I am in the wrong? Themis, what justice is this?” Athena turned to her friend. “My dear Lady, Please do not call upon me to pass judgement, Zeus is our leader and we must obey his command. Lady, please, let Poseidon go and get rid of the girl.”

Unable to exact punishment, she cursed him instead. “May all men born into this world, henceforth be forced to lay their flaccid manhood’s on a table and watch the skin be cut off before their very eyes, the sacrifice burned and offered up to me, your debt, paid by humanity for all of eternity.” Scowling at Poseidon she  yanked her spear from the ground, with his flesh hanging off the tip like a favor given at the Olympic games. He writhed on the ground screaming as Asclepius tended to his wound. She whisked Medusa into her arms and left the temple.

The following day she was called to see Zeus. “You had no right to attack Poseidon the way you did, and then to lay a curse on him, publicly no less! Reparations have to be made.” he scolded. Athena scoffed “Reparations? Yes, they should be made, but onto me for the egregious offense. Why does he think he can just take what he wants because he is an Elder God?’

“Poseidon said she was to blame for this. How can you take the side of a mortal over your kind?” he glared. “How can you take a drunkard’s word as truth? He lied.” She spat back. “Believing me would discredit you in front of the rest of the Gods and we all know you indulge in this type of behavior, it is no secr-” “Impudent woman!” Zeus roared. “Do not bring me into the mess you have made!” he shouted at her. “The mess I made, why tha-’” Athena started but he cut her off.

“Furthermore, you will kill the girl or give her to Poseidon.” he ordered. “So he will take her as a bride?” she asked. “No, of course not. He means to keep her as a concubine. You have no further use for her, she cannot serve you in the temple and now that she is shamed before the entire world, no one will take her, so decide. Give her to him or kill her. That is a direct order Athena. Should you choose to disobey, I will give the order for her to be killed on sight- Now, leave me!” he said, withdrawing from the throne room. Athena, stricken with grief, had but one option to save her favorite priestess, and so she returned to deliver the news.

Sitting in her sanctuary, she sent for Medusa to attend her alone. Athena delivered the edict to the already broken women and they wept together. “Send me away” Medusa pleaded. “Hide me away , or better yet, just kill me! Death may be my only true option! I don’t want to live hunted by Gods and men.” she said, beaten. Sighing deeply Athena spoke softly. “I will protect you the only way I can. Do you trust me to keep you safe this time? I can never repair the damage or the wrong done to you but I can make sure it never happens again.” Medusa nodded in agreement. They spent the evening going over the plan.

Before the sun woke the next morning Athena sent for Hermes. “ I must ask a favor of you, and it must be done this morning. Please call a council of the Gods before Zeus at noon.” “Athena, I don’t know if I can do -” “You can and you will” she said. “Must I remind you that a debt is owed to me?” she raised an eyebrow at him, waiting for a response. “It shall be done my Lady.” he replied, flying off into the sky.

Medusa and Athena said their goodbye’s. “All is forgiven” the Goddess said to her most loyal servant. “Forgive me for not being able to come up with a better solution, but remember it is for your protection.” she said gently, kissing her cheek for the last time.

Athena stood before Zeus and the rest of the assembled Gods waiting for him to sit. She knelt on her right leg and bowed her head. “Beloved King of the Olympians, I have wronged you and am here to publicly apologize for my outburst and for siding with a human.” she looked up at him and he motioned for her to stand. “Athena, I was shocked to see you in that state but I am grateful that you wished to address me before the entire council, showing your true character and obedience. What of the girl, what have you decided?” he asked her.

She banged her spear on the floor, and all turned to the throne room doors. In walked Medusa, hands tied in front of her, flanked by two of Athena’s greatest generals. They threw her at Zeus’ feet and left the chamber. “My Lord” Athena said loudly. “Upon investigation I learned that this vile human did indeed have her own ideas of how she should be treated, and how her beauty would elevate her station. Her service was not honorable. She bade her time in the temple hoping to ensnare a man, in this case, a God.” Turning towards Poseidon whose face was fraught with confusion, Athena said “ Elder Brother, please forgive me, she is unworthy of you, and I have brought her here to punish her.” she spat at the floor near Medusa who wept silently.

“Sister, there is no need to sully your hands on a bitch such as this, let me exact your punishment on her.” Poseidon smiled. “The offense was too great and I must atone.” she said curtly. Banging her spear again “Bring her to me!” she commanded. The generals emerged with a large black blanket and dragged Medusa to Athena. “Stand up!” she roared.

Athena took the girl’s chin in one hand and squeezed, making her cry out in pain. “The most beautiful maiden there ever was you said, no?” the tears flowed from Medusa’s eyes as she nodded in agreement. Athena leaned in and kissed her on the mouth, much to the shock of the onlookers. Everyone in the room gasped loudly, having never seen the Virgin Goddess display affection on anyone or anything. She continued kissing her deeply while Medusa squirmed, making distressed noises. To the horror of the council, Medusa’s hair began to fall out, replaced by angry hissing snakes. Shoving her to the ground, the generals immediately covered her and took her away. “Do not look upon her face!” she shouted. “Anyone who does will be turned to stone!”.

“Athena! What is this?” Zeus said in total shock. “This is for all creatures of the earth and sky to know that I will not be shamed or embarrassed. Medusa, the most beautiful maiden in all the land is now the ugliest, turning anyone who looks upon her into stone. She has been banished to the island where her other two sisters reside, to live out the end of days in misery, and untouchable.” she declared.

The story goes that Athena aided Perseus in the killing Medusa, granting him a shield that would reflect her image so that he would not have to look upon her face. She did, indeed provide him with the shield, but the reflection was to be so clear that the spell would have been cast on him anyway. Knowing that Athena did all this to Medusa in order to keep her from him, he stopped Perseus and enchanted the shield, allowing Perseus to be successful. This was Poseidon’s revenge for the girl and his penis.

Having heard of Poseidon’s treachery, she raced to catch up with Perseus but he was already in position, with his sword in the air. The only thing left for her to do for her priestess and friend was to cut her head off before Perseus could, without him noticing. The death blow delivered by her patroness, one final gift. She vanished out of sight and awaited his return. In a sack he presented Athena with the head of Medusa which she took and placed upon her shield, forever honoring the maiden who served her to the end.

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