Maia’s story: ‘Stheno and Euryale’

Winner: 12-14 years age category

Maia’s notes: This is a version of Medusa’s backstory told from the point of view of her two sisters, Stheno and Euryale. The story is composed of short lines, continuously switching between the two narrators* as they lament the tale of their sister’s punishment. I’ve also included parts of another myth about Athens. The two myths aren’t necessarily related but they fit well for the purposes of my story.
* Our notes: these narrators’ voices are distinguished by italics/lack of italics.

History is written by the winners

And we are not the winners

So this story was never told

Oh it was told sister. But never as it actually happened. Our sweet, foolish sister wasn’t a monster

She was just a girl

An immensely beautiful, immortal girl, but a girl nonetheless. 

I was the first. And then came you, my darling Euryale. We had time to learn a little about the world before Medusa was born

Being immortal, we could age as we chose. But we all generally settled for somewhere within the range of beautiful young Greek woman

But Medusa always seemed younger

 A girl in a woman’s body

 Before the world turned on us we spent the happiest years of our life in that beautiful world.

Playing, singing, dancing, weaving

Picking flowers and seducing mortals

Laughing and weeping in equal turns

But always together. As long as we were together nothing could touch us

Before our sister was a monster she was a girl

And now she isn’t even that

This story is a sad one, but is one that has been too long forgotten

Too long mistold and demonified

So we shall tell it how it really was

It all began with the gods…

As everything does. We’d all be better off if it wasn’t for the Olympians and their meddling 

To be precise, it began with Athene, goddess of wisdom and war

Little Medusa loved and worshipped Athene

So much so that she chose to become a mere mortal and dedicate her life to the goddess’s temple 

And she was oh so happy there

We would visit her whenever she had a moment off

And sometimes when she didn’t. But she was always too overjoyed to be cross. 

She would tell us how much she loved it there, how she felt she was fulfilling her destiny

And she never begged or pleaded for us to join her. She knew I had my travel

And I my trials of strength. We were again happy

And then Poseidon just had to go and get involved

You see, he and Athene have some history

They’ve been at war ever since the Athens incident

When Athens was first built, both of them wanted to be its patron deity, or Tutelary

So they held a competition

Whoever invented the best gift to present to the new city would be crowned the winner

But more importantly the Tutelary of Athens. Athene created the first olive tree

And Poseidon the first horse

Only he hadn’t thought to tame it first

So when it emerged from the sacred spring the poor thing was terrified

It stampeded through the crowds of Athenians and wreaked havoc. It was quite comical really

The three of us watched it from the sidelines

That was when there still were three of us

The townsfolk gladly accepted Athene’s olive tree, and there for her as their patron goddess. The whole affair left Poseidon cross and embarrassed

So he started a feud as his revenge

The pair kept it up for centuries

Playing cruel pranks on each other

Trading threats and insults like love letters

And the other gods just sat back and let them get on with it. No matter how many lives they destroyed in the process

Eventually he found the ultimate way to get back at her

Turn one of Athene’s own maidens against her

He chose the most beautiful of her alter girls

Who just happened to be our ill-fated Medusa

And wooed her and beguiled her

Until she was all but consumed by her passion and her love for him

He lured her into the very heart of the temple

Where no mortal dared set foot

And he lulled and seduced her into lying with him there

That was how Athene found them

Tangled and entwined as one being

She couldn’t punish Poseidon

Gods were above the law

So she took out her fury on our helpless little sister

We came to her as soon as we realised what was happening

But by then it was too late

The deed was done

The goddess turned our sister into a creature so hideous no man could look at her without instantly turning to solid rock

And us too. For standing by her

Then she helped Perseus on his impossible quest

Gave him advice and a shiny shield

So he could decapitate the one mortal gorgon

Leaving us sisterless and alone for all eternity