What kind of snakes were the Gorgons' hair made of?

  • So, the Gorgons had hairs of the snakes. Was it ever recorded what kind of snakes they were?

    I have a couple of quotes

    The spattered desert gave them life as snakes, smooth snakes of many kinds, and so that land still swarms with deadly serpents to this day."

    The Gorgones' heads were entwined with the horny scales of serpents, and they had big tusks like hogs, bronze hands, and wings of gold on which they flew.

    Mopsos, stepping forward with his left foot, brought the sole down on the tip of the creature's tail, and in its pain the snake coiled round his shin and calf and bit him halfway up the leg tearing the flesh . . . The poor man was doomed. A paralysing numbness was already creeping through him, and a dark mist began to dim his sight. Unable to control his heavy limbs, he sank to the ground and soon was cold . . . Mopsos was dead; and they could not leave him in the sunshine even for a short time, for the poison at once began to rot his flesh and mouldering hair fell from his scalp.

    Can ya'll find the snake type? Or a quote that says so?

  • yannis

    yannis Correct answer

    6 years ago

    Most sources I know of simply use some form of "ὄφις" (snake) when describing Medusa or her sisters. That's not particularly helpful in identifying the species of the snakes.

    One source that uses a different word is Nonnus, who describes Medusa's head as "εχιδνοκόμοιο" (Dionysiaca Book 30, 264 ff). Now, this could be translated as "viper hair", but could also be translated as "serpentine hair" or "snake hair". I'm afraid that's the closest we can get to an answer, if we only rely on ancient sources.

    If, however, we also take into account that vipers are the only endemic species of venomous snakes in Greece, I think it would be safe to say that the Gorgons' hair were made of vipers.

License under CC-BY-SA with attribution


Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM