general
Myths

Medusa

The following informant is an 12 year old. In this account he is explaining who Medusa is and how is father used to tell them stories about her. This is a transcription of our conversation, he is identified as J and I am identified as K:

J: Our dad used to tell us the Medusa story. It’s about a women, like an evil evil women, and she has like… snakes for hair… and if you look in her eyes you turn to stone. And it happened to anyone that looked into her eyes, children, adults, anyone and you would turn to stone

K: That sounds like a scary story, how old were you?

J: He has been telling us this story for about like around 5 years old… and yeah it was more scary and had jump scares! He would tell us in a dark room and out of nowhere he would start tickling us. But it doesn’t scare me now.

K: Do you remember the story he used to tell?

J: Well no, he changes the details every time … but it always was about a women with snakes for hair that would turn you to stone if you looked in her eyes

Context: He and his sister took turns telling me stories

Thoughts:

This reminds me of the Oral Formulic Theory, in that for the story to be effectively scary, the character of Medusa needs to remain the same. By using the mythical being and changing the formulaic (little details) the dad was able to adapt the tale as his son got harder to scare.

For another version of Medusa, here is a clip from Percy Jackson & the Olympians – Medusa’s Garden https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HPjZKKV37do

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