In ancient Greek mythology, Medusa was one of the Gorgons, a group of three monstrous sisters.
Although she began her life as a beautiful human, after being cursed by Athena, Medusa became feared for her ability to turn anyone who looked at her directly into stone.
After she was slain by the hero Perseus, Medusa’s head was given to the goddess Athena, who placed it on her shield as a fearsome emblem. The image of Medusa’s head thus came to be associated with Athena and was often used on coins and other objects to represent the goddess and her associated power. Over time, the image of Medusa’s head has continued to be used as a symbol of fear and protection.