Ancient Greek Mythology
Hesiod's Theogony: the Gorgon Medusa
8th century BC, ancient Greek, composed (reputedly) at the base of Mount Helicon, Boeotia, Greece.
The Gorgon Medusa, who lived near the Gardens of the Hesperides and the apples of immortality, is often shown with serpents for hair.
Medusa was sister to Sthenno and Euryale, who were immortal, always young. But Medusa was mortal. Together they were the Gorgons and they lived in the far west of the world, on the edge of Night, where the Hesperides were to be found, according to the Greek poet Hesiod, who wrote in the eighth century BC:
And the Gorgons, they who lived beyond the stream of famous Ocean, on the edge near Night, where the clear-voiced Hesperides are found. The Hesperides were three goddesses, daughters of Night, who guarded golden apples and their trees.
The Gorgons had a sister, Echidna, whose upper half was that of an attractive young woman but whose lower half was a snake. Perseus accepted a challenge to bring back the head of the Gorgon Medusa. In later depictions she had serpents for hair and a face so ugly that it would turn any creature who looked at her to stone. So he flew to the far west of the world with the help of some magic sandals taken from the Stygian Nymphs and looked at Medusa's reflection in a polished shield as he cut off her head.
When Heracles visited the far west of the world, there was a snake entwined about the apple trees in the Gardens of the Hesperides. Another sister of Medusa. Hesiod mentions it:
And Ceto, joined in love to Phorkys, bore her youngest child, a frightful snake which guards the golden apples in that secret place of the dark earth, at its great boundary line.