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My Favourite Planet > English > People > Medusa

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Gorgon Medusa

Ancient Greek mythology, religion and art

Medusa (Μέδουσα, Medousa, guardian, protectress), also known as the Gorgon (Γοργώ, γοργών, γοργόνων, the Grim One, grim, fierce, terrible), one of the three monstrous Gorgon sisters (Γόργονες, the Gorgons).

There are several versions of myths concerning the Gorgons, related by ancient Greek authors. The earliest known written accounts were by Homer and Hesiod, probably some time between the 8th - 7th centuries BC. Homer only mentions the terrifying Gorgon's head [1] the Gorgoneion (see below).

Hesiod (Theogony, lines 270-303 [2]) was the first to record what came to be considered the essential myth concerning the Gorgons, including their birth, Medusa having sex with Poseidon and her death at the hands of Perseus. Hesiod tells us that there were three Gorgon sisters, daughters of the chthonic sea deities Phorkys and Keto: Stheno (Σθεννώ, mighty or forceful), Euryale (Εὐρυάλη, far-springer or far-roaming) and Medusa (the queen, or guardian, protectress), who was mortal.

Another, perhaps more extensive account of the myth of Perseus and the Gorgons was written by the poet Pherecydes, around the first half of the 5th century BC, in the second book of his Genealogies. Only fragments of the account survive in an ancient scholion (commentary) on the Argonautica by Apollonius Rhodius. It was also referred to in the Library of Pseudo Apollodorus. [3]

In the play Ion by Euripides, the Gorgons were monsters produced by the Earth goddess Gaia to assist her sons, the Giants, in their battle against the gods (the Gigantomachy), during which the sisters were killed by Athena [4]. The Gigantomachy is the subject of the frieze around the outside of the Pergamon Great Altar of Zeus. (See Pergamon gallery 2, page 23; see also part of another frieze showing Athena fighting the Giants on Pergamon gallery 2, page 14.)

The original home of the Gorgons is uncertain. Hesiod (Theogony, lines 270-303) described them living near the Hesperides, far to the west of Greece, across the Mediterranean in north Africa. Herodotus, Pausanias and Ovid wrote that they were from Libya, the Greek name for northwest Africa. However, Aeschylus locates them to the east of Greece, on the "Gorgonean plains of Cisthene", and another source relates that they lived on an island called Sarpedon, perhaps one of two places said to have had this name in Thrace and Anatolia (Asia Minor). [5, all references]

Theories have attempted to trace the origins of the Gorgon myths to Greek conquests of Anatolia and the assimilation or destruction of indigenous religions. According to such theories, the Gorgon or Gorgons may have been one or more local deities. Other theories have explored the roots of the myths in linguistic, psychoanalytical or sexual terms.

The rapid spread of depictions of the Gorgons from the 7th century BC around the Greek world, including Anatolia, Egypt, Italy and Sicily (see below), coincides with a period in which Greeks were establishing colonies and trading posts around the Mediterranean and as far as the Black Sea (see for example the History of Stageira). Such adventurous undertakings brought them into contact and conflict with hitherto unknown cultures, including those of northwestern Africa.

The Phoenicians, their competitors, established colonies around the western Mediterranean, including Carthage in north Africa, with which the Greeks in the west were to wage wars over the coming centuries. Many Greek myths and legends, including the adventures of heroes such as Herakles, Odysseus, Jason and Perseus, reflect historical incursions into unknown geographical areas; dangerous undertakings which promised either death or wealth and fame to the adventurers.

The myths added epic proportions and supernatural elements: the superhuman heroes had magical weapons and devices lent by their supporting deities, and their enemies became terrible monsters with enormous power. But the heroes often had to use their brains as well as brawn to overcome their foes. These tales must have served as encouragement to the Greeks settling in distant lands and surrounded by enemies, reinforcing their cultural belief that faith in their gods and rulers, courage, steadfastness and intelligence would ensure their survival.

Age-old tales developed over centuries of oral transmission, and new elements were added, often borrowed from traditions of other cultures; further embellishments made the tales more exciting as well as providing back-stories to explain the origins of characters and situations.

Ovid, in Metamorphoses (Book 4), tells us that Medusa was originally beautiful, had shining hair and was desired by many males. Her beauty aroused Poseidon to rape her in a temple of Athena. As retribution for this sacrilege, Athena cursed Medusa, turned her hair into a mass of serpents and made her face so terrible that anyone who looked at it was turned to stone. [6]

With the help of Athena, Hermes, Hades and the Nymphs, the hero Perseus flew (on wings borrowed from Hermes) to Medusa's home and killed her as she slept. He cut off her head, and the winged horse Pegasus and Chrysaor, the hero with the golden sword, sprang from her blood (see photos below).

The Gorgon's severed head, known as the Gorgoneion (Greek, Γοργόνειος , Γοργόνειον, Gorgon mask), or the gaze of her eyes alone, could turn those who saw it to stone, and became a fearsome weapon.

In northwest Africa, Perseus used the Gorgoneion to turn the Titan Atlas to stone (the origin of the Atlas Mountains), then flew to the Aegean island of Seriphos, where he petrified King Polydectes, who had schemed to kill him and marry his mother Danae. [7] He then gave the head to Athena who added it to her armament by attaching it to her aegis.

The threat of the supernatural power of the Gorgoneion, or even an image of it, was believed to provide protection from enemies, and possess apotropaic qualities (i.e. it could ward off evil). It was used as a symbol of several Greek cities, appearing on coins, architectural decoration and sculpture. The presence of an image of the Gorgoneion on a building, grave or other object was meant to scare off potential attackers, thieves and evil spirits. Pausnaias wrote that the Athenians placed a gilded head of Medusa on the south wall of the Acropolis:

"On the South Wall, as it is called, of the Acropolis, which faces the theatre [of Dionysos], there is dedicated a gilded head of Medusa the Gorgon, and round it is wrought an aegis."

Pausanias, Description of Greece, Book I, chapter 21, section 3.

The Gorgoneion may have been large enough to be seen by ships arriving at Piraeus, and have been set up both as a symbol of Athena and a protective talisman. [8]

The head of the Gorgon Medusa on an Athenian tetradrachm coin at My Favourite Planet

The head of Gorgon Medusa (Gorgoneion)
on an Athenian tetradrachm coin.
Circa 530-520 BC.

Altes Museum, Berlin.
 
The head of the Gorgon Medusa on a silver stater from Athens, Greece at My Favourite Planet

The head of Gorgon Medusa on
an Athenian silver stater coin
("Wappenmünze"), 530-520 BC.

British Museum.
From the Burgon Collection.
 
The head of the Gorgon Medusa on a gold stater from Neaoplis, Thrace at My Favourite Planet

The head of Gorgon Medusa on a gold
stater coin from Neaoplis, Thrace (today
Kavala, Macedonia, Greece). Circa 500 BC.

Münzkabinett, Staatliche
Kunstsammlungen, Dresden.
 

The head of Medusa on a Lesbian billonstatere coin at My Favourite Planet

The Gorgoneion on a billonstatere
coin from Lesbos. Circa 500 BC.

Altes Museum, Berlin.
 
The head of the Gorgon Medusa on a gold stater from Cyzicus at My Favourite Planet

The head of Gorgon Medusa above a tuna
fish on a white gold stater coin from Cyzicus
(Mysia, northwestern Anatolia; today Aydinik,
Balikesir Province, Turkey). Circa 500 BC.

British Museum, London.
 
Medusa Medusa, Gorgons and the Gorgoneion
in Greek, Etruscan and Roman art
A number of prehistoric artefacts showing creatures with monstrous heads are thought by some scholars to represent Gorgons, even small ceramic heads or masks of the Neolithic Sesklo culture (in Thessaly and Macedonia) from around 6000 BC. However, the various theories attempting to associate such objects with the Greek Gorgon myths have yet to be proved.

The figure of the Gorgon Medusa, or just the Gorgoneion, appeared in many types of Greek and Etruscan art from as early as the 7th century BC (Archaic period), particularly on pottery, paintings, architectural decoration and coins (see Earliest depictions of the Gorgon myth in the note below). One of the earliest known depictions of figures clearly identifiable as Gorgons was painted around 660 BC on an amphora known as the "Eleusis Amphora" (see below).

From the 6th century BC the depiction of Medusa's head in the form of a frontal "lion mask" (or "humanoid lion") became standard around the Greek world. The head is usually round, with wavy hair, or topped or surrounded by writhing snakes; the ears are brought forward and stick out frontally; the glaring eyes are large, prominent, sometimes bulging, with thick ridges for eyebrows; the broad nose has a flat ridge, sometimes wrinkled, with a knob at the tip; the cheeks and chin are full and rounded; the wide, grimacing mouth has long fangs in place of upper and lower incisor teeth, and a protruding tongue.

Full figures of Medusa show her winged, wearing a short chiton (tunic), sometimes covered by an animal pelt, and a belt, often of knotted snakes. She is either barefooted or has winged ankles or boots. She is posed in what is often referred to as the "Knielauf" (literally knee-run) schema, a word coined by German archaeologists to describe the kneeling posture favoured by Archaic artists to convey rapid running or flying, for example the Archaic statue of winged Nike from Delos. As with the Nike statue, Medusa's limbs often are arranged in the form of a swastika.

The Gorgoneion appeared on early Greek coins from at least the second half of the 6th century BC. A rare Athenian didrachm of circa 545-515 BC and several coin types (stater, drachm and trihemiobol) from Neapolis, Thrace (today Kavala, Macedonia, Greece) of circa 510-480 BC show Medusa with a potruding tongue, and later coins minted around the Greek world (for example Lesbos, Korkyra (Corfu), Cyzicus and Silenus, Sicily) also bore this motif into Hellenistic times. [9]

The Gorgoneion is often shown on representations of Athena (see, for example, "Athena with the cross-banded aegis" on Pergamon gallery 2, page 13). Although the various versions of the myths tell quite different stories, and may be interpretations of local traditions or later inventions, most involve Athena. Apart from the Gorgoneion itself, the strong and ancient association of Athena with snakes is the subject of many myths and images of the goddess. Medusa is often shown wearing a girdle fastened with a knot, as is Athena (for example, the "Altemps" Athena Parthenos statue in the Palazzo Altemps of the National Museum of Rome).

Medusa's appearance later became more common and she remained a popular motif into Roman times, for example on armour, mosaics, column bases, tombs and sarcophagi. However, from the late 6th century BC some depictions of her were already less wild, terrible and ugly and she was gradually transformed from a powerful, dangerous beast - the "horrid type" - to a form more human, attractive, tame, and even benign, typified by "beautiful type" Gorgoneions. [10] Although she mostly appears feminine, many Gorgoneions are androgynous or decidedly masculine. The varieties of representations are illustrated in the photos below.

The famous mosaic from Pompeii of Alexander the Great in battle with the Persian King Darius III shows Alexander wearing a Gorgoneion on the breastplate of his armour (see photo below). The mosaic is thought to be based on a painting by Philoxenos of Eretria, "Alexander and Darius at the Battle of Issus", of around 315 BC. However, the Gorgoneion in the mosaic and in other artworks of Roman times may be later embellishments. As far as I know, there is no depiction of Alexander made in his lifetime, or of his successors, wearing armour with a Gorgoneion.

It is certain that Roman leaders are shown wearing the Gorgoneion on their armour from the time of the first emperors, such as Claudius (see photos below), and Hadrian seems to have been especially fond of this emblem, as can be seen from many surviving statues of him (photos below).

Deified emperors were represented wearing the aegis and Gorgoneion as part of the iconography of imperial religion, which identified them with the ancient mythological deities such as Jupiter/Zeus. According to the Roman author Servius, this breast armour was called aegis when worn by a god, and lorica when worn by a man. [11]

Gorgon Medusa on an apron from Cyprus at My Favourite Planet

Detail of a fragmentary limestone statue
of a male, on whose apron are the
Gorgoneion and the Uraeus, the double
serpent symbol of Egyptian pharoahs.
From Idalion (Dali), near Nikosia, Cyprus.
Late 6th century BC.

Neues Museum, Berlin. Inv. No. ANT SK 508.
 
Detail of a terracotta plaque of a Gorgon in Syracuse, Sicily at My Favourite Planet

Detail of a terracotta plaque of a Gorgon
in Syracuse, Sicily. Late 7th century BC.

See below.
 
Gorgon's head from Megara Hyblaea, Sicily at My Favourite Planet

Fragment of a terracotta Gorgon head from
Megara Hyblaea, Sicily. 6th century BC.

Paolo Orsi Archaeological Museum,
Syracuse, Sicily. Inv. No. 2010.
 
Gorgon figure from Megara Hyblaea, Sicily at My Favourite Planet

Detail of a terracotta Gorgon figure from
Megara Hyblaea, Sicily. Circa 500 BC.

See below.
 

Gorgoneion on a marble sarcophagus, Manisa, Turkey at My Favourite Planet

The Gorgoneion was a common motif on
richly decorated sarcophagi, particularly
during the Roman Imperial period
(see photos below).

Manisa Archaeological Museum.
A terracotta ceremonial mask from Tiryns at My Favourite Planet

A terracotta ceremonial mask from the "Bothros" of the Upper Citadel
of Tiryns, in the Argolid, Peloponnese. Late 8th - early 7th century BC.

Nafplion Archaeological Museum. Inv. No. 4789.

One of four similar masks on display in the museum (see photo below; the other three are numbered 4790, 4791 and 9095), they are all badly damaged and have been restored. Five masks were discovered in a pit in the Upper Citadel of the ancient fortified city of Tiryns, which had been an important political and cultural centre during the Mycenaean period. The area of the citadel is thought to have been a sanctuary of Hera, and the pit perhaps a bothros, used in sacrificial rituals.

Some scholars believe that the ugly, boar-toothed creatures may be early depictions of the Gorgon's head. Tiryns is one of the Argolid cities associated with the myths of Perseus and Medusa. If these masks were actually worn, they would have covered the entire head, but there are no incisions in the eyes and the wearer would have been "blind". The masks have pierced ears for earrings, identifying them as female.

The Tiryns masks have been compared to terracotta masks of the 7th - 6th century BC discovered in the sanctuary of Artemis Orthia, Sparta. According to various theories, the masks were asscociated with rituals of initiation or coming of age. However, the Spartan masks are very different in form and design.

The artefacts found in the "Bothros" include painted terracotta shields with some of the earliest narrative depictions of mythological scenes in Greek art (see Homer).
 
Four terracotta masks from Tiryns in Nafplion Archaeological Museum at My Favourite Planet

The four terracotta masks from Tiryns displayed in Nafplion Archaeological Museum.
Gorgons on the body of a Proto-Attic amphora, Eleusis at My Favourite Planet

Gorgons on the body of the "Eleusis Amphora", a large Proto-Attic amphora.

Around 660 BC. Excavated in 1954 in the West Cemetery, Eleusis. Pot Burial Γ6.
It had been used as a funeral urn and contained the skeleton of a 12 year old boy.
It is the name vase of the Polyphemos Painter. Height 1.42 m.
Gorgon scene height 52 cm, width 175 cm.

Eleusis Archaeological Museum. Inv. No. 2630.

The amphora was discovered in 1954, during excavations at Eleusis, led by Greek archaeologist George E. Mylonas (see Demeter, note 7), among prehistoric burials in soil only 25-30 cm below the modern level. It is thought that the amphora had been damaged and many parts dragged away during centuries of ploughing.

Medusa's sisters, Stheno (mighty) and Euryale (far-springer), are shown with grotesque oval, mask-like heads, enormous eyes, turned vertically, and wide slits of mouths with teeth like spikes. Snakes writhe on either side of their heads and necks, and the Gorgon on the left has griffin heads growing from the top of her head. The shape of their heads and the griffin and snake decorations have led sholars to compare them to the forms of bronze cauldrons used in sacrificial rituals (see photo, below right). Notably, they are not shown with wings.

On the upper garment of the Gorgon on the right are traces of a scaly pattern. In contrast to the hideous heads, the bodies and poses of the sisters appear relatively graceful. Their twig-like arms and ill-defined hands are stretched out in front of them. They wear split skirts from which their surprisingly shapely left legs protrude (as in the plate from Kamiros below). They appear to be running to the right; although, according to the myth, they pursue Perseus after he has killed Medusa, the poses suggest that they are fleeing or even dancing.

Their way is blocked by Athena to the right (see photo, right). Only part of her head, her arm holding a spear or staff, part of her long garment and her feet and ankles peeping from below it, are preserved.

On the other side of the vase, to the left, the decapitated body of Medusa lies - or floats - horizontally. The part of the amphora showing her head has not been preserved, and only the black legs of Perseus can now be seen.

These are among the earliest depictions of figures clearly identifiable as Gorgons, and of the myth of Perseus killing Medusa. [12] It is thought to be an original composition of the painter, and may have been an illustration of oral traditions or even a written version of the myth: Hesiod's poem Theogony [see note 2] may have been in circulation by this time. At 52 cm high, they are the largest figures yet found on an ancient Greek vase. The depiction of Athena is also one of the earliest in Attic art.

The neck of the amphora shows Odysseus blinding the Cyclops Polyphemos (a short article with a photo of the entire amphora). The amphora also features a lion confronting a boar on the shoulder, large intertwining "snakes" formalized as cable patterns, numerous space-filling, orientalizing abstract and floral motifs, and "fretwork" handles.

Athena holding a spear on the Eleusis Amphora at My Favourite Planet

Athena on the "Eleusis Amphora",
She holds a spear or staff indicated
by a simple brushstroke.
 
A 7th century BC bronze cauldron on a tripod from Delphi at My Favourite Planet

A bronze cauldron on a tripod (from another
cauldron) of iron rods. This type of cauldron
was first made in the 7th century BC. The
rims were often decorated with attached
heads of griffins and sirens.

Delphi Archaeological Museum.
Amphora showing two running Gorgons and the body of the decapitated Medusa at My Favourite Planet

An Archaic vase painting of two running winged Gorgons.
Behind them the body of the decapitated Medusa.

Detail of the body of an Archaic Attic black-figure neck amphora,
circa 620–610 BC. Known as the "Nessos Amphora", it is the name
vase of the Nessos Painter, named after the inscribed painting on
the neck depicting Herakles fighting with the Centaur Nessos.

Watercolour by Émile Gilliéron (1850–1924).

National Archaeological Museum, Athens. Inv. No. 1002 (CC 657).

The 122 cm tall amphora was excavated in Pireaus Street, Keramaikos, central Athens in 1890.

Stheno and Euryale, wearing short, belted chitons, run or fly to the right in the "Knielauf" position. The face of the Gorgon in the centre has detailing in red. Strangely, her left arm is shown behind her wing, which may be an oversight or whimsy of the painter. On the left, the headless body of Medusa slumps forward, her wings and arms lowered, and blood pours from her neck. A bird of prey hovers above the corpse.

The faces of the Gorgon sisters are painted in a variant of the lion mask. Their wavy hair is neatly parted in the middle, and they have what appear to be beards, in the form of thick curls hanging around the line of their jaws. These "beards" probably originated from images of Medusa's head in which dripping blood or bloody veins and sinews hang below her head like spikes (see, for example, the Gorgoneion below). The tips of their noses and nostrils are indicated by an outline shaped like a ram's head (or Ionic capital).

Below the Gorgons are a row of leaping dolphins, perhaps suggesting that the scene is taking place near the sea. Perseus does not appear on the amphora which is only decorated on one side: the rear, although fragmentary, is marked only with three brushstrokes. It has been suggested that Perseus may been painted on a twin amphora, now lost.

The painting on the neck shows Herakles fighting the centaur Nessos. The scene has given the name to the vase and the Nessos Painter.

Source of images: Val. Stais, Paul Wolters, Amphora aus Athen, in Antike Denkmäler Band I, pages 46-48 and plate 57. Kaiserlich Deutsches Archäologisches Institut. Verlag von Georg Reimer, Berlin, 1891. At Heidelberg University Library.
 
A drawing of an Archaic Attic amphora by Emile. Gillierion at My Favourite Planet

A reconstruction drawing of the front
of the amphora by Émile Gilliéron.
Perseus flies with the head of Medusa at My Favourite Planet

Perseus flies with the head of Medusa.

A painted terracotta plaque, probably a metope, from the wooden temple
of Apollo, Thermon (Θέρμος), Aetolia, central Greece. Circa 630-620 BC.
Thought to be the work of a Corinthian workshop. Excavated at Thermon in 1889.

Watercolour by Émile Gilliéron (1850–1924).

National Archaeological Museum, Athens. Inv. No. 13401.

A youthful Perseus, with a goatee beard, strides to the right in the "Knielauf" position. He wears a black petasos (brimmed sun hat), a short, belted chiton and winged boots. A scabbard hangs from a strap slung diagonally over his right shoulder: part of the sword's hilt can still be seen. Under his right arm the top of Medusa's frontal head appears over the top of the kibisis (κίβισις), the pouch he has been given by the Nymphs. The mouth is visible through the fabric of the pouch.

Image source: Georg Kawerau, Giorgios Sotiriades, Der Apollotempel zu Thermos,
in Antiker Denkmaler Band II, 1902-1908, pages 1-8 and plate 51.1.
Kaiserlich Deutsches Archäologisches Institut. Verlag von Georg Reimer, Berlin, 1908.
At Heidelberg University Library.
 
Painted Gorgoneion metoped from Thermon at My Favourite Planet

Gorgoneion.

A painted terracotta plaque, probably a metope, from the wooden temple
of Apollo, Thermon (Θέρμος), Aetolia, central Greece. Circa 630-620 BC.
Thought to be the work of a Corinthian workshop. Excavated at Thermon
in 1889. Height 87-89 cm, width 99 cm, thickness 5.5 cm.

Watercolour by Émile Gilliéron (1850–1924).

National Archaeological Museum, Athens.

Bloody tendrils hang from the severed head, which has enormous eyes, wrinkled cheeks and a nose indicated by a countoured shape, like a ram's head (as on the "Nessos Amphora" above). The head of a griffin can be seen growing from the head, top left, and a snake on the right.

Ovid wrote that as Perseus flew over the Libyan desert carrying Medusa's head, drops of blood from it fell onto the sand and turned into deadly snakes which infested the land:

"... as he bore
the viperous monster-head on sounding wings
hovered a conqueror in the fluent air,
over sands, Libyan, where the Gorgon-head
dropped clots of gore, that, quickening on the ground,
became unnumbered serpents; fitting cause
to curse with vipers that infested land."

Brookes More (translator), Ovid, Metamorphoses, Book 4, lines 604-705.
Cornhill Publishing Co., Boston, 1922. At Perseus Digital Library.

Image source: Georg Kawerau, Giorgios Sotiriades, Der Apollotempel zu Thermos,
in Antiker Denkmaler Band II, 1902-1908, pages 1-8 and plate 52.
Kaiserlich Deutsches Archäologisches Institut. Verlag von Georg Reimer, Berlin, 1908.
At Heidelberg University Library.
 
A reconstruction drawing of part of the entablature of the Apollo temple at Thermon at My Favourite Planet

A reconstruction drawing by the German architect and archaeologist
Georg Kawerau (1856-1909) of part of the roof and entablature of the
Doric temple of Apollo at Thermon, showing the antefixes and metopes.

See more about antefixes below.

Image source: Georg Kawerau, Giorgios Sotiriades, Der Apollotempel zu Thermos,
in Antiker Denkmaler Band II, 1902-1908, pages 1-8 and plate 49-1.
Kaiserlich Deutsches Archäologisches Institut. Verlag von Georg Reimer, Berlin, 1908.
At Heidelberg University Library.
A plate showing a winged goddess with a Gorgon head at My Favourite Planet

Ceramic plate showing a winged goddess with the head of a Gorgon,
wearing a split skirt, and holding in each hand a water bird by its neck.

Made on Kos about 600 BC. From Kamiros, Rhodes.
Height 2.5 cm, diameter 32 cm, weight: 1.19 kg.

The goddess is thought to be Potnia Theron (Πότνια Θηρῶν), the Mistress of Animals,
depicted in ancient Minoan, Mycenaean, Greek and Etruscan art as a winged goddess
holding animals in both hands. It is not known why the figure on this plate has a Gorgon's
head, or to put it another way, why a Gorgon was depicted as the Mistress of Animals.

British Museum. Inv. No. GR 1860.4-4.2. Acquired in 1860.
Terracotta plaque of a Gorgon carrying Pegasus from Syracuse, Sicily at My Favourite Planet

Restored painted terracotta plaque with a relief of a running/flying
winged Gorgon, carrying winged Pegasus under her right arm.

End of the 7th century BC. Found in the Via Minerva, Ortygia, Syracuse, Sicily.
Height 56 cm, width 50 cm.

Paolo Orsi Regional Archaeological Museum, Syracuse, Sicily.
Inv. No. 34540, 34543, 34895 (fragments).

The fragments of the figure were discovered during excavations in 1913-14 around the site of the temple of Athena on the island of Ortygia, Syracuse. The first temple was built there in the 8th century BC, and enlarged in the second half of 7th century. It was replaced in the early 5th century BC by a Doric temple built by the tyrant Gelon (Γέλων, died 478 BC) to commemorate the Sicilian Greek defeat of the Carthaginian invasion at the Battle of Himera in 480 BC, at the same time as Xerxes' Persian invasion of Greece was thwarted at the Battle of Salamis (Herodotus, The Histories, Book 7, chapter 166, section 1).

The Cathedral of Syracuse was built by Bishop Zosimo in the mid 7th century AD over the remains of the temple, using the ancient columns and other architectural parts. The Via Minerva is today known as the Piazza Minerva, a large square on the north side of the cathedral which covers part of the sanctuary of Athena. The Gorgon plaque may have decorated an altar or a metope of a Protoarchaic building in the sanctuary.

The plaque, made in a mould and finished by hand, is of orange clay with a pale yellow-beige slip, painted in blue, black, red, purple and yellow. The backgound is black. The four, symmetrically arranged holes indicate that it was nailed to a wooden support.

Medusa, wearing a short tunic, a split skirt and winged boots, runs/flies to the left in the "Knielauf" position. Her frontal, lion-mask head is topped by two symmetrical rows of spiral curls; locks in incised chequered patterns fall over her shoulders. Her three (of originally four) sickle-shaped wings, like those on her boots and Pegasus, are tightly curled like sea waves. She has an earring (or hole for one), marked by a red dot on her right earlobe.

She holds her child Pegasus in her lowered right hand, supporting it below the stomach on bent fingers. The reconstructruction of the left hand shows her to have very long fingers. It is thought that she originally held her son Chrysaor on her left arm and shoulder (see photo below).

This is one of the earliest of a large number of ancient depictions of Gorgons found on Sicily. According to Thucydides (Book 6, chapter 3), Syracuse was founded by colonists from Corinth around 734 BC, and the iconography of such depictions may have been influenced by Corinthian models [13].
 
Terracotta arula with a relief of Medusa from Selinunte, Sicily at My Favourite Planet

Fragmentary terracotta arula (small, portable altar) with
a relief of a winged Gorgon in the "Knielauf" position.

From the Sanctuary of Demeter Malophoros, Selinous
(Σελινοῦς; today Selinunte), southwest Sicily. 560 BC.

Antonino Salinas Regional Archaeological Museum, Palermo, Sicily.
Metope relief of Perseus killing Medusa from Selinunte, Sicily at My Favourite Planet

Metope with a relief of Perseus killing the Gorgon Medusa, with the aid of
Athena (left), from Temple C, on the acropolis of Selinous (Selinunte), Sicily.

540-510 BC. Local limestone from Menfi, northeast of Selinute.

Antonino Salinas Regional Archaeological Museum, Palermo, Sicily.

Medusa, in the "Knielauf" position, holds Pegasus with her right hand. Perseus, wearing winged sandals, averts his gaze from the Gorgon and decapitates her with a sword in his right hand, while with his left hand he grasps the hair on the top of her head.

This metope (metope VII) was one of ten which decorated the east end above the entrance of the Doric temple, thought to have been dedicated to Apollo. Three of the metopes, with reliefs of mythological scenes, as well as four triglyphs and other parts of the entablature, are wonderfully displayed in the Palermo museum. The pediment, only fragments of which have survived, was decorated by an emormous polychrome terracotta Gorgoneion mask.
 
Altar with a relief of Gorgon Medusa carrying Pegasus and Chrysaor, Gela, Sicily at My Favourite Planet

Ceramic arula (altar) with a high relief of Medusa carrying Pegasus and Chrysaor.

From the emporion (ἐμπόριον, trading centre) of Gela, Sicily.
500-480 BC. Height 116 cm, width 35 cm, length (at base) 77 cm.

Gela Regional Archaeological Museum, Sicily. Inv. No. Sop BL 10.

The almost life-size figure of Medusa is made of pink clay and has a highly polished finish. Although the strong, flat colours of the Gorgon plaque in Syracuse (above) have immediate appeal and fascination, the plasticity of this figure lends it a powerful physical presence which may have been enhanced or diminished by the addition of paint. In contrast to the bulky, muscular Gorgon (particularly the thighs), the figures of Pegasus and Chrysaor appear thin and less convincing.

Below Medusa's right shin is one of her ankle wings in the form of a concave disc with a semi-circular curve cut out of the top left.

The extraordinarily fine quality of locally made ceramic figures of this period can be seen in two other altars, one representing Kephalos carrying Eos, and the other depicting Demeter, Persephone and Hekate (or Aphrodite), which are also exhibited in the excellent Gela museum.

See also some Gorgoneion antefixes from Gela below.
 
Pegasus and Chrysaor on the Gorgon altar in Gela, Sicily at My Favourite Planet

Pegasus and Chrysaor on the altar relief in Gela. Medusa tightens her belt of
snakes, which here appear to protect her children. Pegasus' snout nuzzles her
right breast, while Chrysaor's right arm and hand is attached to her left breast.
Gorgon Medusa riding Pegasus in Syracuse, Sicily at My Favourite Planet

Gorgon Medusa riding Pegasus on a fragmentary
Middle Corinthian vase. 600-575 BC.

From an ancient necropolis of Syracuse, Sicily.

Paolo Orsi Regional Archaeological Museum, Syracuse, Sicily. Inv. No. 52244.

Only two fragments of the ceramic figure have survived. The upper fragment represents Medusa's lion-mask head and part of her slim-waisted upper torso. Each of her hands grasp a snake, decorated with dark blue dots, which she wears like a scarf around her shoulders, the ends twisted together. Her belt also appears to be a snake (or snakes).

The lower fragment is in the form of the front of a horse with raised forelegs. Part of the Gorgon's right leg can be seen hugging the side of its body. The rectangular base has a chequered pattern painted on the front.

This is the only ancient object I know of with a Gorgon riding Pegasus. As with the ceramic relief of Medusa with Pegasus above, depictions of Medusa with her children are rare, presumably since the myths relate that they were born after she had been killed by Perseus. Her association with horses was suggested in the first known depictions of her, the earliest of which is on a amphora found in Thebes, dated to around 670 BC, where she is represented as a female centaur [12].

So far I have found no literature with further information about this object.
If you have any further information, please get in contact.
 
Gold plaque with a figure of a Gorgon from Delphi, Greece at My Favourite Planet

A semi-circular gold plate riveted onto a bronze plaque, with a
relief of a running/flying Gorgon holding a snake in each hand.

One of two similar plaques found in Delphi, among several objects
associated with a chryselephantine statue of a female figure, probably
Artemis. They may have been fibulae, attached to the statue's dress
at the shoulders. The Gorgon's head is truly "horrid" and beast-like.

From a workshop in East Greece (Ionia), probably Samos. 6th century BC.

Delphi Archaeological Museum, Greece.
Small bronze figure of Medusa from the Sanctuary of Hera, Perachora Corinthia, Greece at My Favourite Planet

Small bronze figure of a running/flying Gorgon.

A decoration of a bronze vessel. From the Sanctuary of Hera,
Perachora, Corinthia, Greece. 580-525 BC.

National Archaeological Museum, Athens. Inv. No. 16149.
Small bronze figure of Medusa from the Sanctuary of Olympia, Greece at My Favourite Planet

Small bronze figure of a running/flying Gorgon.

Probably a decoration of a bronze vessel.
From the Sanctuary of Olympia, Greece. 6th century BC.

National Archaeological Museum, Athens. Inv. No. 6088.
Bronze handle of a ritual vessel with a head of the Gorgon Medusa at My Favourite Planet   Bronze handle with a head of a Gorgon, Delphi, Greece at My Favourite Planet
Vertical handles of bronze ritual vessels terminating
in Gorgon heads. From Delphi, 6th century BC.

Delphi Archaeological Museum, Greece.
Winged Gorgon Medusa from the pre-Parthenon Athena Temple, Athens at My Favourite Planet

Fragments of an Archaic marble statue of the winged Gorgon Medusa, reconstructed
as an akroterion (roof decoration) on the gable of a temple. It is thought that the
statue was set up above the entrance to the pre-Parthenon Athena temple
of the Athens Acropolis known as the Hekatompedon, built around 575-550 BC.

Reconstruction in the Old Acropolis Museum, Athens. Inv. No. Acr. 701.

The reconstructed figure in the photo above used to be a prize exhibit in the Old Acropolis Museum until 2007, but may no longer exist in the new museum. Recent photos show the fragments of the Gorgon separately, and there is no mention of the reconstruction as an exhibit in the offical guide book, the museum's website or other recent publications. [14]

The story of the reconstruction may be remarkable (although not necessarily unusual), but the few mentions of it by historians and archaeologists are brief and vague.

A number of marble sculptural fragments were found in December 1888, southwest of the Parthenon. The well-executed, life-size head was evidently that of a Gorgon of the lion-mask type. A second fragment, with traces of paint, is not so well sculpted or detailed, and depicts what appears to be a belt with a Herakles knot, grasped by two hands, over one of which is part of a snake. Another fragment has parts of toes from a right foot attached to part of a slightly concave base with a low chequered relief. The marble was first thought to be Pentelic, but is now considered to be Hymettian.

Marble head of Medusa. Inv. No. Acr. 701.
Life-size. Height 28.6 cm, width 19.6 cm.

Marble belt fragment. Inv. No. 3798.
Width 25 cm.

Marble foot fragment. Inv. No. 3618.
On part of a broken baseplate,
height 15 cm, width 22 cm, depth 5 cm.

The oval shaped head of the Gorgon is shown frontally. The hair over the forehead is arranged in neat, scalloped waves parted at the centre. Above this is a taneia (band), and the top of the head is covered by a regular chequered pattern relief. The eyes, with incised pupils, are set deep beneath ridged brows and above full, rounded cheeks. The nose is wrinkled by four horizontal grooves. The wide, grimacing mouth has ridged lips, upper and lower fangs at each end, among regular rows of teeth, and a flat, tongue potruding over a broad chin. The ears are placed high, flat against the sides of the head.

The style and carving technique of the head have been compared to those of the famous "Moschophoros" (Calf Bearer) statue from the Athens Acropolis, which has been dated to around 570 BC (see photo, below right).

During the mid to late 19th century archaeological excavation on and around the Acropolis was at its most intensive phase, with the discovery of an enormous number of artefacts and fragments. Sorting, conserving, storing, examining and analysing the objects were enormous tasks, and many still await detailed study.

Archaeologists were eager to trace the history and evolution of the Acropolis and identify the remains of ancient buildings and monuments, some of which had survived only as architectural fragments or traces of foundations. To a great extent they had to rely on mentions of them by ancient authors, and several conflicting theories developed, some of which remain subjects of debate.

Two monumental temples of Athena were thought to have been built on the Acropolis during the Archaic period, before the Classical Parthenon, the identification and history of which are still being debated. The first may have been the temple referred to by ancient authors as the Hecatompedon (ἑκατόμπεδος, Hekatompedos, hundred-footer), so named because of its length of 100 Attic feet (32.8 metres). It has been also referred to by modern historians as the "Parthenon I", "UrParthenon" (primal Parthenon), "Bluebeard temple" or, less romantically, "Building H". It is thought to have been built around 570–550 BC, and has been associated with the establishment of the Great Panathenaia festival in 566/565 BC, during the archonship of Hippokleides. Several sculptures from this temple are now in the Acropolis Museum.

The first temple was replaced by the "Pre-Parthenon" or "Parthenon 2", which was under construction around 488-480 BC, but had not been completed when it was destroyed during the Persian invasion of 480/479 BC.

The German archaeologist Wilhelm Dörpfeld (1853-1940) took a particular interest in the pre-Parthenon temples of Athena, and excavated the foundation of a building he believed was the Hekatompedon, beneath the Parthenon. The foundation was named the "Dörpfeld foundation" (or "Dörpfeld temple") after him. [15]

Meanwhile, the Gorgon fragments had been placed in the recently-built Acropolis Museum (the old museum on the Acropolis, completed 1874, with an extension built in 1888). It seems no connection had been made between them, and the two largest (the head and belt) were kept on different shelves. [16]

The German archaeologist Johann (Hans) Hermann Schrader (1869-1948), working on the excavations at the Acropolis under Dörpfeld, had been given the task of processing sculptural finds. Based on a handful of small, apparently disparate fragments and the conclusions of other archaeologists (Dörpfeld, Theodor Wiegand) he set about attempting to reconstruct the Gorgon and a lion (or leopard) as part of the gable end of the roof of the Hekatompedon. [17] The result of his work is the reconstruction above, showing a running/flying Gorgon in the kneeling position, on the apex of the gabled roof (see Shrader's drawing below).

His bold efforts received encouragement from colleagues at the time [18], and the reconstruction was evidently considered convincing enough to have been exhibited in the museum for many decades. Although there appear to have been no published criticisms of the piece, it is notable that it has ignored by several books on the Acropolis and the museum. Such adventurous reconstructions of ancient sculptures had been de rigeur since the Renaissance, especially in Italy. However, by the end of the 19th century they were frowned upon by more scientific archaeologists, and mostly avoided in Athens.

The Gorgon Medusa akroterion in the Acropolis Museum at My Favourite Planet

The head and belt fragments of the
reconstructed Gorgon akroterion.
 
The head of the Acropolis Gorgon at My Favourite Planet

The head of the Acropolis Gorgon.

Acropolis Museum, Athens.
Inv. No. Acr. 701.
 
The Moschoforos (Calf Bearer) statue in the Acropolis Museum at My Favourite Planet

The "Moschoforos" (Calf Bearer)
statue from the Athens Acropolis.
Hymettian marble. About 570 BC.

Acropolis Museum, Athens.
Inv. No. Acr. 624.
Hans Schrader's reconstruction drawing of the Gorgon Medusa on the roof of the Hekatompedon at My Favourite Planet

Hans Schrader's reconstruction drawing of the Gorgon Medusa
on the roof of the Hekatompedon [see note 17 below for source].
Fragment of a painted terracotta figure of a Gorgon from Megara Hyblaea, Sicily at My Favourite Planet

Fragment of a painted terracotta figure of a Gorgon
from Megara Hyblaea, Sicily. Circa 500 BC.

The top part of a Gorgon figure with a Daedelic hairstyle. Her hands grasp
a belt in the same way as the "Hekatompedon" Gorgon above. The hole
under her right arm suggests that it was part of a plaque nailed to a building.

Paolo Orsi Archaeological Museum, Syracuse, Sicily.
A ceramic relief of Gorgon Medusa and an ancient mould from Akragas, Sicily at My Favourite Planet

A modern ceramic pinax (plaque) with a relief of Medusa (right), made from an ancient mould.

Second half of the 6th century BC. From Akragas (Ἀκράγας, today Agrigento), Sicly.

Three of the Gorgon's four sickle shaped wings are visible. The figure has a "lion-mask"
head, a short chiton and winged boots, and runs/flies in the "Knielauf" position.
As in the "Hekatompedon" Gorgon and the Megara Hyblaea figure above, both
her hands grasp a belt made of snakes.

Paolo Orsi Regional Archaeological Museum, Syracuse, Sicily. Inv. No. 48096.
A ceramic relief of Medusa from an ancient mould, Agrigento, Sicily at My Favourite Planet

Another Medusa pinax relief from an ancient mould from Akragas, Sicily. 6th century BC.

Found during excavations directed by Pirro Marconi and Pietro Griffo in and
around the Sanctuary of the Chthonic Deities (underworld gods), where traces
of kilns from pottery workshops connected with the sacred area were discovered.

Agrigento Regional Archaeological Museum. Inv. No S 16.
A winged Gorgon on a marble grave stele from Kerameikos, Athens at My Favourite Planet   The restored Gorgon Stele from Kerameikos at My Favourite Planet
A relief of a winged Gorgon on a marble grave stele, shown in
the kneeling posture that signified rapid motion in Archaic art.

Made of island marble, about 560 BC. From Kerameikos, Athens.
Height of stele 239.5 cm, width 43.5 cm.

National Archaeological Museum, Athens. Inv. No. 2687.

The stele, often referred to as the "Gorgon Stele", was found in 1905 in Kerameikos, built into the Themistoklean Wall. The main panel depicts the full figure of a slim, young doryphoros (probably a warrior) in profile, facing right. The Gorgon is in the register below. The figures had been hammered before being fitted into the wall. It is displayed in the museum next to a plaster cast (photo, right), restored with a capital and a crouching sphinx on top.

A number of such tall, slim Archaic grave steles are known to have been made in Athens and Attica around 600-530 BC, and at other places such as Thessaly. One of the best preserved, the "Brother and Sister stele", also topped with a sphinx, is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. [19] Part of another 6th century BC Attic marble stele, dated to circa 550–525 BC, in the Metropolitan, known as the "Kalliades Stele", also shows a running/flying Gorgon. [20] The sphinxes, lions, Gorgons and (later) sirens on the steles are thought to have been apotropaic protectors of the graves, perhaps reflecting the Egyptian tradition.

The Gorgon has been very carefully sculpted, with fine detailing. The thickly braided hair is reminiscent of earlier artworks of the "Daedalic Period" (650-600 BC), but the anatomical details and modelling are now much more sophisticated.

The figure, in the "Knielauf" position, wears a short chiton (tunic) covered with a geometrical pattern, and the bands around the collar and short sleeves are decorated with continuous spiralling. The body is muscular, with the thick thighs typical of Archaic sculpture, particularly of depictions of Medusa, and the artist has made an effort to show the weight and forms of flesh, muscle and bone. The feathers of the upraised, sickle-shaped wings are separated by ridged contours.

The face of the Gorgon is missing, but she probably had the usual "lion mask" features shown on other depictions of her from the late Archaic and early Classical periods, as on the coins and the head of Medusa from the Athens Acropolis above, and on the "Kalliades Stele".
 
A bronze Gorgoneion from the Athens Acropolis at My Favourite Planet

A bronze Gorgoneion (Gorgon's head), probably a device on the shield
of a statuette of Athena. From the Athens Acropolis, late 6th century BC.

National Archaeological Museum, Athens. Inv. No. NAMA 6509.
Bronze head of the Gorgon Medusa from the Acropolis, Athens at My Favourite Planet

Bronze Gorgon's head, probably from a shield of a statuette of Athena
or a bronze vessel. From the Athens Acropolis, late 6th century BC.

Acropolis Museum, Athens. Inv. No. NAMA 6510.
(Previously in the National Archaeological Museum, Athens)
Head of the Gorgon Medusa from Sparta at My Favourite Planet

Bronze Gorgon's head, probably an attachment. From the
Sanctuary of Athena Chalkioikos, Sparta, late 6th century BC.

National Archaeological Museum, Athens. Inv. No. 15917.
A bowl with a Gorgon head, surrounded by a frieze of deer, lions, sphinxes and a siren at My Favourite Planet

Ceramic bowl with a Gorgon head, surrounded by a frieze of deer, lions, sphinxes and a siren.

Early Corinthian, around 610-590 BC. Attributed to the Medallion Painter. From Kamiros, Rhodes.

British Museum. Inv. No. GR 1861.4-25.46.
Terracotta Gorgon mask from the area of Temple B, Gela, Sicily at My Favourite Planet

Restored terracotta Gorgoneion which probably decorated a pediment,
discovered in the area of Temple B, Gela, Sicily. 600-580 BC. Height 105 cm.

Paolo Orsi Regional Archaeological Museum, Syracuse. Inv. No. 34241.
Gorgoneion antefix from the sanctuary of Chthonic gods, Akragas, Sicily at My Favourite Planet

Painted Gorgoneion antefix from the Sanctuary of Chthonic Deities,
Akragas (Agrigento), Sicily. End of the 6th century BC.

One of a number of antefixes discovered during
excavations at the sanctuary in 1953-1955.

Agrigento Regional Archaeological Museum, Sicily.

An antefix is an ornamental plaque covering the end of a roof tile (kalypter) which covered the lower edge of a wooden framed roof or the apex of a gable (sima) of a temple, mostly during the Archaic period. Rows of such antefixes, usually in the form of heads (often referred to as protomes [21]) of mythical figures, often decorated the sides of roofs. Antefixes covering apex tiles were usually larger.

The technique is thought to have been invented in Corinth, and was used on several temples in Sicily, where Gorgoneions were among the most common antefix motifs.

The antefixes and tiles below show a wide variety on the Gorgon theme, and artists around the Greek world - Ionia (West Greece), Thrace, Magna Graecia (Italy) and Sicily - depicted her in very different ways between the 6th and 4th centuries BC. Although there was a general tendency towards less hideous and more attractive Gorgons, the Archaic types continued into the 4th century BC, as can be seen from an Archaistic Gorgon antefix from Gela below.

With the development of architecture from the Classic period (5th - 4th century BC) and the replacement of wood and ceramics with stone, including stone roof tiles, antefixes gradually ceased to be employed. Rows of decorative stone heads (similar to gargoyles), often of lions, continued to be used as water spouts on the edges of roofs (eaves or sima) along the sides of temples and other buildings.
 
Terracotta Gorgoneion antefix from ancient Oesyme at My Favourite Planet

Terracotta Gorgoneion antefix from the sanctuary on the acropolis
of ancient Oesyme, northern Greece. 550-525 BC.

Kavala Archaeological Museum, Macedonia, Greece.

The ancient Thracian city of Oesyme (Οίσύμη) was located on the North Aegean coast, near the modern settlement of Nea Peramos, just to the west of Kavala (ancient Neapolis), opposite the island of Thasos. It was mentioned by Homer (The Iliad, Book 8, lines 253-343) as Aisyme (Αίσύμη), the birthplace of Kastianeira, one of the wives of King Priam of Troy.

In the second half of the 7th century BC it became one of the coastal colonies of Thasos and part of the Thasian Peraia. The city's acropolis was on a fortified hill and had an Archaic temple, perhaps dedicated to Athena, which was replaced in the early 5th century BC. Oesyme also had a sanctuary dedicated to the nymphs. Following the conquest of the city by Philip II of Macedonia around 350 BC, it was renamed Emathia (Ημαθία), after the ancient name for Macedonia and its mythical founder hero.

The features of this round-headed Gorgoneion are in the style favoured around the Aegean and at Athens during the mid 6th to 5th century BC (see, for example, the "Hekatompedon" Gorgon and the coins from Lesbos and Athens above). Very few Gorgons as architectural decoration from the Archaic or Classical periods have been found in the Macedonian and Thracian areas of northern Greece, and it appears that the Gorgon theme generally may not have been so popular here as in other parts of Greece, Italy and Sicily.
 
Coin of ancient Neapolis with a Gorgon's head at My Favourite Planet

Silver stater coin of Neapolis.
510-490 BC.
Obverse: Gorgon's head.

Kavala Archaeological Museum.
Gorgoneion antefix with traces of colour, Paestum at My Favourite Planet

A terracotta Gorgoneion antefix of the "horrid type", with traces of colour.

6th century BC. From the southern sanctuary of Poseidonia (today Paestum).

National Archaeological Museum of Paestum, Campania, Italy.

One of a number of Gorgoneion antefixes found in the southern sanctuary of Poseidonia. They are thought to have decorated smaller temples and thesauri (θησαυροί, plural of thesauros, θησαυρός, treasury, storehouse) built soon after the foundation of the city.

Five of the antefixes are exhibited in the Paestum museum. Each is of a different form and type, and the museum label suggests that they are displayed more-or-less in chronological order (see the other four in the photos below). The depictions of the Gorgon are successively less horrid.

Poseidonia, (Ποσειδωνία) in Magna Graecia (on the west coast of southern Italy) was founded around 600 BC by Greek colonists from either Sybaris (Σύβαρις, Gulf of Taranto, founded by Achaeans and Troezenians in 720 BC) or Troezen (Τροιζήν, Argolid Peninsula, northeastern Peloponnese), or perhaps by Achaeans and Troezenians together. The city was renamed Paistos by the Lucanians who conquered it at the end of the 5th century BC, and later Paestum by the Romans who took over in 273 BC.
 
Modern reproduction of a Gorgoneion antefix, Paestum at My Favourite Planet

A modern reproduction of the Gorgoneion antefix above, with restored
colours, displayed in the Paestum museum for educational purposes.

National Archaeological Museum of Paestum, Campania, Italy.
The second Gorgoneion antefix in the Paestum museum at My Favourite Planet

The second terracotta Gorgoneion antefix in the Paestum museum.

National Archaeological Museum of Paestum, Campania, Italy.
The third Gorgoneion antefix in the Paestum museum at My Favourite Planet

The third terracotta Gorgoneion antefix in the Paestum museum.

National Archaeological Museum of Paestum, Campania, Italy.
The fourth Gorgoneion antefix in the Paestum museum at My Favourite Planet

The fourth terracotta Gorgoneion antefix in the Paestum museum.

This is the only intact antefix, and it is still attached to the tile.

National Archaeological Museum of Paestum, Campania, Italy.
The fifth Gorgoneion antefix in the Paestum museum at My Favourite Planet

The fifth terracotta Gorgoneion antefix in the Paestum museum.

This antefix is around twice the size of the other four. The round,
plate-like frame has been restored, but enough of the colour has
survived to give an impression of the antefix's original appearance.

National Archaeological Museum of Paestum, Campania, Italy.
Terracotta Gorgoneion from Selinunte at My Favourite Planet

A terracotta Gorgoneion antefix from the area of Temple C,
on the acropolis of the Greek colony of Selinous (Σελινοῦς;
today Selinunte), on the southwestern coast of Sicily.

One of several Gorgon antefixes of various styles connected with
different phases of construction on the acropolis from around 540 BC.

Antonino Salinas Regional Archaeological Museum, Palermo, Sicily.
Terracotta Gorgoneion from Randazzo, near Catania at My Favourite Planet

Part of a terracotta Gorgoneion antefix from the necropolis of Randazzo,
in the valley of the Alcantara river, Catania province, Sicily.

Among artefacts, dating from the 6th to 3rd centuries BC,
excavated 1889-1890 by Antonino Salinas. The ancient Greek city
to which the necropolis belonged has not yet been identified.

Antonino Salinas Regional Archaeological Museum, Palermo, Sicily.
Gorgoneion antefix from Monte Bubbonia, Gela, Sicily at My Favourite Planet

A terracotta Gorgoneion antefix of the "horrid type".

2nd half of the 6th century BC. One of two identical antefixes (from the same mould)
discovered at the site of a small temple in the residential area of Monte Bubbonia,
20 km north of Gela. Both have been restored, though this one is better preserved.

The site on Monte Bubbonia may be Maktorion (Μακτώριον), mentioned by
Herodotus (The Histories, Book 7, chapter 153) as "a city above Gela".
It is thought to have been inhabited by Greek and native Sicilian Sicians.

Gela Regional Archaeological Museum, Sicily, Italy.
Gorgoneion antefix from Scalo Ferroviario, Gela, Sicily at My Favourite Planet

A painted terracotta Gorgoneion antefix.

6th century BC. From Scalo Ferroviario, Gela.

A remarkable and unusual Gorgon antefix, for its time finely modelled
and coloured. Not quite the "horrid type" (most of the Gorgons from
Gela not are truly horrid), but not yet of the "beautiful type". Next to the
head is some sort of note of authentication with an offical wax stamp.

Gela Regional Archaeological Museum, Sicily, Italy.
Terracotta Gorgoneion antefix from Gela, Sicily at My Favourite Planet

Terracotta Gorgoneion antefix (decorated end of a roof tile).

Greek, around 500-450 BC. Found in the sea off the coast of Gela, Sicily.
Height 50 cm, width 40 cm.

Soprintendenza per i Beni culturali e ambientali del Mare, Palermo. Inv. No. 4237.

Exhibited in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, during the
exhibition "Sicily and the sea", 16 June - 25 September 2016.
Terracotta Gorgoneion with a krobylos, from Gela, Sicily at My Favourite Planet

Terracotta antefix depicting Medusa's head with a krobylos hairstyle.

From Gela, Sicily. Around 490 BC.

British Museum. Inv. No. GR 1899.7-18.2 (Terracotta 1137).
Donated by J. R. Anderson.

There are a number of antefixes of this type, known as "gorgone con krobylos", including three in Gela Archaeological Museum; the best preserved is Inv. No. 8411. All show the Gorgon wearing a wide, curved headdress or taenia (hairband) above rows of black curls and the elaborate krobylos (κρώβυλος) hairstyle popular during the Archaic period, as well as large round earrings with concentric circles.

One fragment from Gela, on which the paint has been well preserved, shows the strong colours used, including "rouged" cheeks. [22] The face is quite human, although to the modern eye with something of a cartoon or clown character. There are no snakes, wrinkled nose or fangs, in fact the teeth are in perfectly even rows. The faded paint in this example suggest a faraway, distance look in the eyes, although the Gela fragment belies this illusion. However, this is not a glance that would petrify or even scare the viewer.

Like the Gorgonians in the two photos further above, this type can not be accurately described as either "horrid" or "beautiful", and it appears to cross a boundary from the type immediately above into the relm of jolly, comical or even downright silly. Whatever the Sicilian Greeks of the Archaic period thought of gorgons, or however they considered depictions of them, it is difficult to imagine that they would have viewed such a figure with dread.
 
Gorgoneion antefix from the acropolis of Gela, Sicily at My Favourite Planet

An Archaistic (imitating the Archaic style) Gorgoneion antefix, harking back to
the "horrid type". From the acropolis of Gela, Sicily. End of the 4th century BC.

Gela Regional Archaeological Museum, Sicily.
Terracotta Gorgoneion antefix from Syracuse, Sicily at My Favourite Planet

Terracotta Gorgoneion antefix. 6th - early 5th century BC.

Excavated in the area of the railway station, Syracuse, Sicily.

An unusually well modelled, three-dimensional depiction of Medusa,
with a degree of realism heightened by the bold painting.

Paolo Orsi Regional Archaeological Museum, Syracuse. Inv. No. 84845.
Terracotta Gorgoneion from a temple in Naxos, Sicily at My Favourite Planet

Terracotta Gorgoneion from a temple building in the east of
the ancient city of Naxos, Sicily. First half of the 5th century BC.

Naxos was the oldest Greek colony in Sicily, founded on the east
side of the island in 734 BC by settlers from Chalcis in Euboea.

Paolo Orsi Regional Archaeological Museum, Syracuse.
Terracotta Gorgoneion antefix from Rubi at My Favourite Planet

Terracotta Gorgoneion antefix of the "horrid type" from Rubi (ancient Rhyps or Rhybasteion;
today Ruvo di Puglia, Apulia, southern Italy). Made in Taranto about 490-470 BC.

British Museum. Inv. No. GR 1875.6-15.1 (Terracotta 1251 bis).

Semi-circular Gorgoneion antefixes, made in a mould and finished with a stick, were produced
at Taranto from the mid 6th to the 3rd century BC. One of the earliest surviving examples,
made around 525-500 BC, is in the National Archaeological Museum of Taranto, Inv. No. 17580.
Terracotta Gorgoneion from Taranto at My Favourite Planet

Terracotta Gorgoneion antefix from Taranto (Ancient Greek Τάρᾱς, Taras;
today in Apulia, southern Italy). Made in Taranto about 450 BC.

British Museum. Inv. No. GR 1889.8-10.1 (Terracotta 1270).
Gorgon relief on a ceramic tile from the acropolis, Gela, Sicily at My Favourite Planet

Relief of a running/flying Gorgon on a locally made ceramic tile.
From the area of the acropolis, Gela, Sicily. 6th century BC.

Gela Regional Archaeological Museum, Sicily.
Gorgon relief on a ceramic tile from Paestum, Italy at My Favourite Planet

Relief of a running/flying Gorgon on a ceramic tile from the Northern Sanctuary
of Paestum, Italy. Made in an East Greek (Ionian) workshop, 6th century BC.

National Archaeological Museum of Paestum, Campania, Italy.
Gorgoneions on the handles of a Laconian volute krater, Gela, Sicily at My Favourite Planet

Gorgoneions on the handles of an Archaic Laconian black-figure
volute krater. 6th century BC. The painting on the neck depicts
a lion confronting a boar among birds and other animals.

Gela Regional Archaeological Museum, Sicily.
The Gorgoneion on the volute of a Laconian krater, Gela at My Favourite Planet

The Gorgoneion on the right-hand volute of the krater above.
 

Archaic flask in the form of a Gorgon at My Favourite Planet

Archaic flask in the form of a Gorgon
with traces of colour. 590-570 BC.

Palazzo dei Conservatori, Capitoline Museums,
Rome. Inv. No. 306.
 
Glass vessel in the form of the head of Medusa at My Favourite Planet

Glass flask in the form of the head of Medusa.

From Folkling, Moselle department, France.
3rd century AD.

Neues Museum, Berlin.
Bronze strainer with a Gorgon head from Syracuse at My Favourite Planet   Gorgon head on a strainer from Syracuse at My Favourite Planet
The Gorgon head on the handle of a bronze strainer.

From Syracuse. Made in Sicily, perhaps in Syracuse, about 500 BC.

The museum labelling states that the terminal of the
strainer shows the river god Acheloos, but it is almost
impossible to discern the figure on the corroded object.

British Museum. Inv. No. GR.1851.8-13.100 (Bronze 574).
From the Comarmond Collection.
Marble frieze with a relief of a Gorgon from Didyma at My Favourite Planet

Corner of a marble frieze with a relief of a Gorgon.

From the Sanctuary of Apollo, Didyma (Δίδυμα),
Ionia (Yenihisar, Turkey). Archaic, 530-525 BC.

Istanbul Archaeological Museum. Inv. No. 2182 T. Cat. Mendel 239.

See also colossal Roman period Medusa heads in Didyma below.
Athena and Perseus holding the head of Medusa at My Favourite Planet

Athena stands next to Perseus who holds the head of Medusa in his left hand.
In his right hand is a harpe (ἅρπη, a sickel-shaped weapon) with which he
has just decapitated the Gorgon. [23]

Detail of an Attic red-figure calyx-krater, made in Athens about 460-450 BC.
From Kamarina (Καμάρινα), south coast of Sicily (Ragusa province).
Attributed to the Mykonos Painter. Height of krater 53 cm.

Museo Civico, Castello Ursino, Catania, Sicily.
Inv. No. 4399. From the Biscari Collection.

See: Beazley Archive Database, Vase No. 205773.

Perseus wears a petasos (broad-brimmed sun hat), a himation (cloak) and winged boots. To the left Athena, her hair in long, thick locks, holds a spear and wears a crested Attic helmet and the aegis over a long chiton. On the far left a draped female figure (Danae or a nymph?) sits on a rock. On the right a male figure with a crown and sceptre (Polydektes?) sits on a chair. This appears to be the scene in which Polydektes is turned to stone by the Gorgoneion on Seriphos. The head of Medusa appears to have Negroid characteristics, perhaps alluding to versions of the myth in which she was from north Africa. [5]

The other side (Side B) shows a woman (Andromeda?), a draped male figure leaning on a staff, Poseidon and running Gorgons.
 
Chrysaor and Pegasus are born from the Gorogn Medusa's neck at My Favourite Planet

Chrysaor and Pegasus are born from Medusa's neck.
Perseus walks away with the kibisis containing Medusa's head.

Low relief on one end of a limestone sarcophagus from Golgoi, Cyprus, 475–460 BC.

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Inv. No. 74.51.2451.
From the Cesnola Collection, Purchased by subscription, 1874–76.

The small figures of Chrysaor (Χρυσάωρ, Gold Blade) and Pegasus (Πηγασος, Of the Spring) emerge from the open neck of the decapitated Medusa. The kneeling Gorgon's body has four sickle-shaped wings and is dressed in a long chiton. Her arms are raised to assist the birth of her children. Perseus ignores the birth and walks away to the right with Medusa's head in the kibisis, which hangs behind him from a staff he carries over his shoulder. In his right hand he carries a harpe. The bearded hero wears a conical cap and a short tunic, and like Medusa, he is barefooted. A dog sitting in the centre of the scene watches Perseus' departure.

Image Source: J. L. Myers, Sarcophagus from Golgoi, in Antiker Denkmaler Band III, 1909-1911, pages 3-4 and plates 5-6. Deutsches Archäologisches Institut. Walter de Gruyter & Co., Berlin, 1926. At Heidelberg University Library.

See also:

Antoine Hermary and Joan R. Mertens, The Cesnola Collection of Cypriot art - Stone sculpture, Cat. 491: The "Golgoi sarcophagus", pages 363-370. Free downloable PDF catalogue. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2014.
 
A Greek warrior on a plate by Psiax at My Favourite Planet

The centre of an Attic black-figure plate painted by the Athenian vase painter Psiax,
540-510 BC, depicting a warrior. Found in the Sanctuary of Zeus at Olympia, Greece.

The bearded warrior, wearing a crested helmet, cuirass and greaves, strides
to the left, his spear held at head-height with the front pointed downwards.
He carries a Boeotian shield, decorated with an aegis and Gorgoneion.

Altes Museum, Berlin. Inv. No. F 2099.

Beazley Archive Database No. 320364.
The Gorgoneion on the shield of a Achaean warrior on a relief in Delphi at My Favourite Planet

The Gorgoneion on the shield of a Achaean (Greek) warrior on a high relief
depicting a battle with Trojans during the Trojan War (see Homer).

Detail of the Archaic marble relief from the east side of the
frieze of the Siphnian Treasury, Delphi, built for the people
of Siphnos around 525 BC (before 524 BC).

Delphi Archaeological Museum, Greece.
A Gorgoneion in the tondo of an Athenian black-figure kylix at My Favourite Planet

A Gorgoneion in the tondo of an Athenian black-figure kylix (drinking cup). 550-501 BC.

Around the tondo, symposiasts recline outdours, beneath hanging vines with
bunches of grapes. The foot of the cup is in the form of a phallus and testicles.

Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. Inv. No. AN1974.344.
Gorgons dancing on an Etruscan neck amphora at My Favourite Planet

Detail of an Etruscan black-figure neck amphora ("Round dance"), 525-500 BC,
by the Micali Painter, with dancing or running three-winged Gorgons, followed
by a winged male figure (Perseus?). All three figures also have winged ankles.

Altes Museum, Berlin. Inv. No. V.I. 3226.
Acquired from the Collection Ancona in 1892.
A Harpy, the Demon of Death, on an Etruscan hydria at My Favourite Planet

Detail of an Etruscan black-figure hydria, 530-500 BC, possibly by the
Micali Painter, showing a Harpy, the Demon of Death, with a head similar
to a that of a Gorgon. The four-winged Harpy, with the body of a bird, holds
a naked human figure by the wrist in each hand of her outstretched arms.

Altes Museum, Berlin. Inv. No. F 2157. Acquired in 1834.
A bronze handle with Tritons and sleeping Gorgons at My Favourite Planet

A bronze handle of a lid or dish, with Tritons and sleeping Gorgons (see detail below).

Made in southern Italy, perhaps at Croton, around 500 BC.
One of a pair; the other is in the National Archaeological Museum, Naples.

British Museum. GR 1824.4-89.31 (Bronze 576).
From Naples. Bequeathed by R. Payne Knight.
Sleeping Gorgons in the British Museum at My Favourite Planet

The sleeping Gorgons on the bronze handle above. The winged Gorgons also
have wings on their ankles, and stretch out their arms to touch each other.
Gorgoneion on the tondo of a band cup from ancient Smyrna at My Favourite Planet

Gorgoneion on the tondo of a band cup from
Smyrna (today Izmir, Turkey). 6th century BC.

Izmir Archaeological Museum, Turkey.
Gorgoneion as the tondo of a fragment of a kylix, Syracuse, Sicily at My Favourite Planet

Gorgoneion as the tondo of a fragment of a kylix (drinking cup).

5th century BC. Found in the area of an Ionic temple
in the Via Consiglio Regionale, Syracuse, Sicily.

Paolo Orsi Regional Archaeological Museum, Syracuse. Inv. No. 45673.
The head of Medusa on a mosaic floor from Dion, Macedonia at My Favourite Planet

The head of Medusa in the centre of a mosaic floor from
the Villa of Dionysos, Dion, Macedonia. 2nd century AD.

Dion Archaeological Museum, Macedonia, Greece.
A mosaic floor from Piraeus with winged head of the Gorgon Medusa at My Favourite Planet

Detail of a mosaic floor found in 1892 in Zea, Piraeus. Made in the 2nd century AD,
using the opus tessallatum technique. The winged head of Medusa in the central rondo
portays her as an attractive, blond, young woman with snakes in her hair. The mosaic
also features the popular geometric pattern of intersecting radial spirals and concentric
circles, defined by triangles. Like the image of Medusa, it is thought that the pattern
was believed to have supernatural apotropaic properties (able to avert evil).

National Archaeological Museum, Athens.
Mosaic head of Medusa, Baths of Diocletian, Rome at My Favourite Planet

The head of Medusa with snakes, in the centre of a floor mosaic from Rome.

1st - 2nd century AD. Found in the Via Ardeatina, near the church of S. Palombo, Rome.

Baths of Diocletian, National Museum of Rome.

See also a small emblema with a bust of Dionysus from the same floor mosaic.
Mosaic head of Medusa, Palazzo Massimo alle Terme, Rome at My Favourite Planet

The head of Medusa in the centre of a floor mosaic from Rome.

Roman Imperial period, end of the 1st - mid 2nd century AD.
Found in 1939 in a necropolis, Rome.

Palazzo Massimo alle Terme, National Museum of Rome. Inv. No. 125532.
Mosaic head of Medusa from Pergamon at My Favourite Planet

The head of Medusa in the centre of a floor mosaic. From the
Lower City of Pergamon. Roman period, 3rd century AD.

Bergama Archaeological Museum.
Mosaic head of Medusa from the Terrace Houses, Ephesus at My Favourite Planet

The head of Medusa in a polychrome emblema (panel) of a floor mosaic
in one of the Terrace Houses in Ephesus. Roman period, 3rd century AD.

Terrace House 2 (Hanghaus 2), Dwelling Unit 3, Room 16a.

The Gorgon's head is shown in the manner typical of the Roman era, with the tails of two snakes tied in a Herakles knot on her throat. The snake's bodies writhe around the sides of her winged head, and their heads appear above, facing each other. Medusa's round face is quite human, feminine and pretty. The x-shaped backgound has a pattern of grey scales, probably representing the aegis. The finely executed image has a black oval frame within a thinner black quadrilateral frame, surrounded by a large oblong mosaic area consisting of a black and white recurring pattern of intersecting circles.

The image has been dated stylistically to the 3rd century AD, although some scholars have suggested the 2nd century and even the 5th century (Volker Michael Strocka and Werner Jobst). [24]

In the same room, to the left (west) of this mosaic, is another of the same size and style with an emblema containing a bust of Dionysus.

Also on this page:

Gorgoneions on sarcophagi from Ephesus

a Gorgon relief in the "Temple of Hadrian", Ephesus

a Gorgoneion on the Library of Celsus, Ephesus
 
 

Winged head of Medusa on the shield of the Varvakeion Athena statuette

Winged, baby-faced head of Medusa on the shield
of the "Varvakeion Athena" statuette. From Athens,
3rd century AD (see Pergamon gallery 2, page 14).

National Archaeological Museum, Athens. Inv. No. 129.
 

Relief of Apollo, Minerva and the Muses at My Favourite Planet

Detail of a sarcophagus relief of Apollo,
Athena/Minerva and the Muses.

Left: Apollo of the Lykeios type with kithara and griffin (?).

Centre: Athena/Minerva wearing
Corinthian helmet and Gorgoneion.

Right: A muse with a kithara.

Marble. From the Via Appia, Rome, around 200 AD.

Altes Museum. Berlin. Inv. No. Sk 844.
 

Bronze Gorgoneion from Taranto, Italy

Detail of a greave (leg armour) from a bronze statue
of a mounted warrior, with the head of a pretty,
jolly-looking Gorgon on the knee.

Made in Taranto, southern Italy, around 470-450 BC.

British Museum. GR 1886.3-24.1 (Bronze 265).
Barone and Piot collections.

Athena on coin from Amphipolis

Tetradrachm coin of Antigonos
Gonatas, from Amphipolis, Greece,
circa 270 BC. Helmeted Athena
wearing the aegis and holding
a shield with the Gorgoneion.

Bode Museum, Berlin.
 

Statue of Athena Lemnia wearing the aegis and Gorgoneion in Dresden

Reconstructed statue of "Athena
Lemnia", attributed to Pheidias,
450-440 BC, wearing the aegis
and Gorgoneion.

Skulpturensammlung,
Albertinum, Dresden.
Replica B. Inv. No. HM 050.
 

Relief of Athena wearing the aegis and Gorgoneion from Pergamon

High relief of Athena wearing the
aegis and Gorgoneion. From the
theatre of the Lower City,
Pergamon. Marble. Roman period.

Bergama Archaeological Museum.
Athena wearing the aegis and Gorgoneion on an Etruscan relief at My Favourite Planet

Athena wearing the aegis and Gorgoneion on an Etruscan ceramic high relief
depicting two episodes from the Greek myth of The Seven against Thebes.

From the rear pediment Temple A of the Sanctuary of the Etruscan goddess
Uni (equivalent of the Roman goddess Juno, Greek Hera and Phoenician
Astarte) at Pyrgi, the port of Caere (today Cerveteri), Latium. 470-460 BC.

National Etruscan Museum, Villa Giulia, Rome.
 

Statuette of the Etruscan goddess Menvra wearing the aegis

Bronze statuette of the Etruscan goddess
Menvra, modelled on Greek figures of Pallas
Athena, or Palladion, with raised spear and
shield and wearing the aegis. The helmet,
similar in form to the Attic helmet on Greek
copies of the Athena Parthenos statue
by Pheidias, is shown with the cheek flaps
raised. Unusually, the goddess is barefoot,
lacking the usual sandals.

From Apiro, Italy. 4th century BC.

Altes Museum, Berlin. Inv. No. Fr. 2176.
 
Statuette of the Etruscan goddess Menvra wearing the Gorgoneion

Bronze statuette of Menvra wearing
the aegis and Gorgoneion. The head
of the Gorgon is as large as that of
the goddess. Her right rather than
left leg is bent. The handle in her
left hand and spigot on the forearm
indicate where a shield was
attached to the figure.

From central Italy. Circa 500 BC.

Altes Museum, Berlin. Inv. No. Fr. 2178.
Female dancers around Palladion on a Campana plate at My Favourite Planet

Female dancers around Palladion, 1-50 AD.

Athena/Minerva in the pose of Palladion with raised spear and shield, wearing a helmet, aegis
and Gorgoneion. A "Campana plate": colourfully painted ceramic reliefs depicting scenes from
mythology and daily life which decorated the interior and exterior walls of sacred, public and
private buildings from the mid 1st century BC until the first half of the 2nd century AD. [25]

"But there came a phantom, as it seemed to us onlookers,
of Pallas, with plumed helm, brandishing a spear."

Euripides, Heracles, lines 1002-1003.

Altes Museum, Berlin. Inv. No. TC559. Acquired in 1696 from the Bellori Collection.
Palladion wearing the aegis and Gorgoneion on a Campana plate at My Favourite Planet

Palladion wearing the aegis and Gorgoneion on the Campana plate above.
Detail of a statue of Athena wearing the aegis and a Gorgoneion at My Favourite Planet

Detail of a marble statue of Athena wearing a Corinthian helmet,
with the aegis and a Gorgoneion on her breast.

2nd century AD.

National Archaeological Museum, Naples. Inv. No. 6321. Farnese Collection.
The Gorgoneion and snakes of the aegis on a statue of Athena in Naples at My Favourite Planet

The Gorgoneion and snakes of the aegis on the statue of Athena above.
A caryatid from the Lesser Propylaia in Eleusis at My Favourite Planet   A Gorgoneion on a caryatid from Eleusis at My Favourite Planet

A Gorgoneion with protuding tongue on the
crossed band of a caryatid (or kistephoros)
from the facade of the Lesser Propylaia of
the Sanctuary of Demeter and Kore, Eleusis.
(see Demeter).

Pentelic Marble. Circa 50 BC. Height 209 cm.

Eleusis Archaeological Museum. Inv. No. 5104.

The other, not so well preserved caryatid
was removed from Eleusis by Edward Daniel
Clarke in 1801, and is now in the Fitzwilliam
Museum, Cambridge, Inv. No. GR.1.1865. [26]
Alexander the Great wearing the Gorgoneion on the breastplate of his armour at My Favourite Planet

Alexander the Great wearing the Gorgoneion on the breastplate
of his linothorax (armour made of layered and stiffened linen).

Detail of a mosaic depicting Alexander fighting the Persian king
Darius III at either the Battle of Issos in 333 BC or the Battle
of Gaugamela in 331 BC. Thought to be based on a lost painting.

Floor mosaic, made using the opus vermiculatum (Latin, worm-like
work) technique of local stone and some glass tesserae. 125-120 BC.
Found in the House of the Faun, Pompeii.

National Archaeological Museum, Naples. Inv. No. 10020.

See more photos and information about this mosaic
on the Alexander page of the People section.
A statue of Emperor Claudius wearing a cuirass with a Gorgoneion at My Favourite Planet The Gorgoneion on the breastplate of Emperor Claudius
Marble bust of Emperor Claudius (ruled 41-54 AD)
wearing a cuirass with the Gorgoneion.

From Nikomedia (Izmit, Turkey). 1st century AD.

Istanbul Archaeological Museum. Inv. No. 87 T.
A statue of Emperor Hadrian wearing a cuirass with the Gorgoneion at My Favourite Planet The Gorgoneion on the breastplate of Emperor Hadrian at My Favourite Planet
Detail of a marble statue of Emperor Hadrian
wearing a cuirass with the Gorgoneion.

From the agora of Thasos, Greece. 130 AD.

Thasos Archaeological Museum.
A statue of Emperor Marcus Aurelius wearing a cuirass with the Gorgoneion at My Favourite Planet Jolly-looking Gorgon on the breastplate of the statue of Emperor Marcus Aurelius at My Favourite Planet

Jolly-looking Gorgon on the
breastplate of the statue
of Marcus Aurelius.
Detail of a marble statue of Emperor Marcus Aurelius wearing a cuirass with the Gorgoneion.

From Italy. The head and body of the much restored sculpture are from
separate statues. The body, 50-80 AD, was found near Tivoli. The head,
of the second type of portrait of Marcus Aurelius, is dated to 150 AD.

Altes, Museum, Berlin. Inv. No. Sk 368. Acquired in 1761.
The Gorgoneion and aeigis on a Roman statue, Thessaloniki Archaeological Museum at My Favourite Planet   Gorgoneion and aeigis on a Roman statue in Thessaloniki at My Favourite Planet
A not-so-hideous Gorgoneion on the aeigis of a marble Roman
Imperial statue, now headless and unidentifiable. 117-138 AD.

Thessaloniki Archaeological Museum.
A gilded terracotta disc with a Gorgon head from Thermi, Macedonia Greece at My Favourite Planet

One of a number of gilded terracotta discs with Gorgon
heads, excavated from Tomb C, Sedes (ancient Thermi),
Macedonia Greece. 320-300 BC.

The discs were originally sewn onto fabric and deposited
as grave offerings. Similar golded discs have been found
at other locations in Macedonia, such as Veria (see below).

Thessaloniki Archaeological Museum.
Inv. No. Mθ 5536-5538.
Gold buttons with Gorgon heads from a tomb in Mieza, Macedonia at My Favourite Planet

Two of a number of gold buttons with Gorgon heads, among offerings found in
the cist grave of a girl (Kavallaris Plot), Mieza, Macedonia, Greece. 350-325 BC.

Veria Archaeological Museum, Macedonia, Greece. Inv. Nos. M 1690 a-στ, M 1692, M 1692.
Colossal marble Gorgoneion at the entrance to Veria Archaeological Museum, Macedonia, Greece at My Favourite Planet

Colossal marble head, thought to be a Gorgoneion, dated first half of the 2nd century BC,
at the entrance to Veria Archaeological Museum, Macedonia, Greece.

The largest Gorgon head found in Greece, thought to have been attached to the northern
defensive walls of ancient Veria (Βέροια) as an apotropaic symbol to scare off attackers.
The features of the head, particularly the hairstyle, resemble those of Alexander the Great.
Black-glaze pyxis with a Gorgoneion relief, Veria, Macedonia, Greece at My Favourite Planet

Black-glaze pyxis decorated in the "West Slope" style, with a Gorgoneion relief.
Found among grave offerings of the rock cut chamber tomb on the Spanos Plot,
in the ancient necropolis of Veria, Macedonia. 2nd century BC.

Veria Archaeological Museum, Macedonia, Greece. Inv. No. Π 2379.
The head of Gorgon Medusa on the tondo of a gold hairnet at My Favourite Planet

A gold hairnet with a tondo showing the head of Gorgon Medusa.
From Akragas (Agrigento), Sicily. 3rd century BC.

Agrigento Regional Archaeological Museum, Sicily.
A relief of Gorgon Medusa above the doorway of the Temple of Hadrian, Ephesus at My Favourite Planet

A relief of a figure which has been interpreted as the Gorgon Medusa on a marble
lunette panel above the doorway to the "Temple of Hadrian" in Ephesus, built 130 AD.

The naked female figure with wavy, snake-like hair, is visible to the top of her thighs.
She stands with her arms outstreched in the stem of a fabulous plant, the branches
of which spiral out symmetrically to either side of her.

Kuretes Street, Ephesus archaeological site, Selçuk, Turkey.

Also on this page: Gorgoneions on sarcophagi from Ephesus
Gorgon Medusa in a plant above the doorway to the Temple of Hadrian, Ephesus at My Favourite Planet

Gorgon Medusa in a plant above the doorway to the "Temple of Hadrian", Ephesus.

See also a Dionysiac relief from Pergamon with a similar giant plant motif.
A Gorgoneion relief on the facade of the Library of Celsus, Ephesus at My Favourite Planet

A Gorgoneion relief of the "beautiful type" on the facade
of the Library of Celsus, Ephesus, completed around 135 AD.

The library's highly ornate facade has four projecting roofed porch areas (aediculae or tabernacles) on the ground floor, each supported by two columns with composite capitals (a mixture of Ionic and Corinthian elements). The porch roofs in turn support the Corinthian columns of three roofed areas on the first floor (see photos on Ephesus gallery page 30). The pediments of the upper porches each has a tympanum decorated with a relief of a Gorgoneion flanked by floral and spiral tendril motifs, and framed along the top by an egg and dart motif.

This Gorgoneion tympanum is on the left-hand (south) pediment. That it is a copy is made evident by the contrast to the original white marble fragment fitted into the pediment during the reconstruction of the facade in 1970-1978 (see photo below). The fragmentary reliefs of the other two pediments appear to be original but less complete.

The original tympanum is now in the Ephesos Museum of the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.
Inv. No. Antikensammlung, I 1632 (at present not on display).
Height 67 cm, width 172 cm, depth 63.5 cm.

See www.khm.at/de/object/0e7e392d9c/ (in German)

See also a photo of the original pediment by Andreas Praefcke on Wikipedia Commons.
 
Close-up of the Gorgoneion on the facade of the Library of Celsus, Ephesus at My Favourite Planet

Close-up of the Gorgoneion tympanum on the facade of the Library of Celsus above.
Marble head of the Gorgon Medusa from Aphrodisias, Caria at My Favourite Planet

Relief head of Medusa of the "beautiful type" on a marble console (corbel).

Excavated in 1904 by Paul Augustin Gaudin at the Baths of Hadrian,
Aphrodisias (Ἀφροδισιάς), Caria (western Turkey). 2nd century AD.

Istanbul Archaeological Museum. Inv. No. 2279. Cat. Mendel 497.
Marble relief of a colossal head of the Gorgon Medusa at the Temple of Apollo, Didyma at My Favourite Planet

Marble relief of a colossal winged head of Medusa at the Sanctuary of Apollo,
Didyma (Δίδυμα), Ionia (today Didim, Aydin Province, Turkey). 2nd century AD.

The Sanctuary of Apollo at Didyma was a pre-Greek oracle, taken over by Ionic Greek colonists of the nearby city of Miletus at the beginning of the first millenium BC, and dedicated to Apollo as Didymeus (Διδυμευς). A sacred way lined with monuments connected the oracle to the city, 10 km to the north. The Archaic temple, which housed the oracle, was built around the late 8th - early 7th century BC, and was destroyed by the Persians in 494 BC.

The building of the enormous new Ionic temple was inaugurated by Alexander the Great, following his conquest of Ionia in 334 BC, and the oracle proclaimed him as the son of Zeus in 331 BC. (Alexander also dedicated the temple of Athena Polias in Priene in 334 BC.) However, construction appears not to have got underway until about 300 BC, during the rule of Seleucus I Nicator, the founder of the Seleucid Empire. According to Vitruvius (On architecture, Book 7, Introduction, section 16), the architects were Paeonios of Ephesus and Daphnis of Miletus. The marble was quarried at nearby Lake Bafa (Bafa Gölü).

Building work at the sanctuary continued intermittently for several centuries, until about 200 AD, as can be seen from the differing styles of various sculptural elements. However, the temple was never completed, a fact noted by Pausanias (Description of Greece, Book 7, chapter 5, section 4), and a number of infinished columns can still be seen at the site.

The two marble blocks with heads of Medusa on this page (see the other below) are the best preserved of several on display at the archaeological site. The blocks formed a frieze on the architrave of the temple, as symbolic protection for the secretive oracle within. They have been dated stylistically to around the time of the reign of Emperor Hadrian (117-138 AD). The quality and style of carving on the blocks are markedly different, indicating that they were made by different artists, perhaps some time apart.

The Gorgoneions are generally in the style popular during the Roman Imperial period, often shown on sarcophagi. The oval shaped heads are winged and have thick, wavy hair, falling as a fringe over the forehead and to the sides as long locks. The tails of two snakes around the neck are tied in a Herakles knot at the throat. The eyebrows are thick and prominent, and those of the head above, and the Gorgoneion from Aphrodisias further above, are creased as if she is frowning; although they are of the "beautiful type", they appear quite masculine.
 
Marble relief of the Gorgon Medusa's head, Temple of Apollo, Didyma at My Favourite Planet

Another of several marble reliefs of colossal winged heads of Medusa
on display at the Sanctuary of Apollo, Didyma. Circa 100-200 AD.
A colossal Gorgoneion relief used as a column base in the Basilica Cistern, Istanbul at My Favourite Planet

One of the two colossal marble blocks with reliefs of Gorgon heads
reused as column bases in the Byzantine Basilica Cistern in Istanbul.

The enormous, 9,800 square metre underground Basilica Cistern (known in Turkish as Yerebatan Serayi, Sunken Palace, or Yerebatan Sarniçi, Sunken Cistern) was built around 532-542 AD (after the Nika Riots of 532 AD) by the Byzantine emperor Justinian I (reigned 527-565 AD) to provide water for the Great Palace and nearby buildings. The cistern was mentioned by the Byzantine historian Procopius of Caesarea (Buildings, Book I, chapter 11, sections 10-15). It may have replaced an earlier cistern at this location.

Much of the building material was taken from older monuments which had presumably been destroyed by the time of Justinian. The ceiling, over 8 metres high, is supported by 336 columns of various types and sizes, including 98 with acanthus capitals. Many of the columns are thought to have come from the Great Nymphaeum (Nymphaeum Maius) in the Forum of Theodosius, commissioned in the second half of the 4th century by the urban prefect Clearchus, who in 373 inaugurated the Valens Aqueduct which supplied water to the nymphaeum. One of the columns in the cistern (photo, right) has peacock-eye shaped reliefs on the shaft similar to column fragments found at the site of the Forum of Theodosius.

The Medusa blocks are made of Proconnesian marble from the nearby Sea of Marmara. The head in the photo above has been set upside down, while the other is placed on its side (see photo below). It has been suggested that this was to negate the terrible power of the Gorgon's gaze. The Christians of Constantinople may have considered it quite appropriate to banish the pagan monster heads to the dark underworld of the cistern. More probably, the blocks were simply turned to fit to the height required. The difficulty the builders had in fitting the blocks and the columns can be seen in the roughly finished stone slabs wedged between the tops of the blocks and bottoms of the column bases. The rectangular bases are intricately carved with egg-and-dart reliefs, suggesting that they were originally parts of a grand monumental building.

The original location of the two redeployed Medusa blocks and the possible reasons for their use in the cistern are questions which have been much debated since they were uncovered from beneath tons of mud and rubble during extensive restoration work in the 1980s.

A very similar marble block with a Gorgoneion relief on either side was discovered in the area of the Forum of Constantine (see photo below), and in 1916 was moved to the inner courtyard of the Istanbul Archaeological Museum, where it still stands today. According to a recent theory, the blocks in the cistern are two halves of the keystone of one of two entrance arches to the forum, the block at the museum being the keystone of the other arch.

See:

Anthony Kaldellis, The Forum of Constantine in Constantinople: What do we know about its original architecture and adornment? Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies 56 (2016), pages 714–739.
 
A column in the Basilica Cistern with peacock-eye relief decoration at My Favourite Planet

A column in the Basilica Cistern
with "peacock-eye" decoration.
A marble head of the Gorgon Medusa in the Basilica Cistern, Istanbul at My Favourite Planet

The other marble block with a relief of Medusa's head, this one placed
on its side in the damp gloom of the Basilica Cistern in Istanbul.
Colossal Gorgoneion relief in the courtyard of the Istanbul Archaeological Museum at My Favourite Planet

A marble block with a colossal Gorgoneion relief on either side.
Discovered in the area of the Forum of Constantine in Istanbul,
and thought to be a keystone of one of two entrance arches.

Moved to the courtyard of the Istanbul Archaeological Museum in 1916.
A sarcophagus decorated with Gorgoneions, Erotes and heads of Pan, Istanbul Archaeological Museum at My Favourite Planet

A large marble sarcophagus decorated all around with reliefs of Gorgoneions and
garlands supported by Erotes (figures of Eros), and heads of Pan at each corner.

See a photo of one of the heads of Pan on the Pan page.

From Byzantium (Istanbul). Roman Imperial period, 2nd century AD.
Height 243 cm, width 342 cm, depth 170.5 cm.

In the courtyard of the Istanbul Archaeological Museum. Inv. No. 513.
Acquired by the museum in 1880.
A Gorgoneion on a sarcophagus in Istanbul at My Favourite Planet

A winged head of Medusa (Gorgoneion) on the left side of the sarcophagus above.
A Gorgoneion on a marble sarchophagus from Sardis at My Favourite Planet

A Gorgoneion on the end of a marble sarchophagus from Sardis. Roman Period.

Izmir Museum of History and Art.
A winged Gorgon with wild hair, Izmir Archaeological Museum at My Favourite Planet

A winged Gorgoneion with wild hair on a marble sarchophagus from Ephesus. Roman Period.

Izmir Archaeological Museum.
A Gorgoneion on a marble sarchophagus from Ephesus at My Favourite Planet

A relief of a Gorgoneion of the "beautiful type" on the front
of a marble sarchophagus from Ephesus. Roman Period.

Outside the Ephesus Archaeological Museum, Selçuk, Turkey.

The Gorgoneion is in the centre, flanked by busts of a mature woman (left) and bearded man. Below each figure is a garland (or swag) of fruit and flowers, hung with a bunch of grapes and a vine leaf, and fastened to the next garland with ribbons tied with bows. The garlands are held up by two erotes (cupids), standing on pedestals either side of the Gorgoneion, and at each of the four corners by a winged Nike on a pedestal. The left end of the tomb is also decorated with a not-so-attractive, masculine-looking Gorgoneion above a garland (see photo below). The relief head (or emblem) on the right side is too worn to be identified. The rear may also be decorated but is obscured by plants growing on the fence behind.  
A beautiful type Gorgon head from Ephesus at My Favourite Planet

A "beautiful type" Gorgon head.
The masculine-looking Gorgoneion on the left side of the sarchophagus from Ephesus at My Favourite Planet

The masculine-looking Gorgoneion on the left side of the sarchophagus from Ephesus above.
Lenos shaped marble sarcophagus with reliefs of Gorgon heads at My Favourite Planet

Lenos (grape treading tank) shaped marble sarcophagus
with reliefs of Gorgon heads at either end.

From Panormou (ancient Palermo), Sicily. 3rd century AD.

Antonino Salinas Regional Archaeological Museum, Palermo, Sicily.
Marble statue of Perseus holding the head of Medusa, Ostia at My Favourite Planet   The head of Medusa from the Ostia statue at My Favourite Planet
Marble statue of Perseus holding the head of Medusa.

Original creation of the Flavian-Trajanic period.
From the baths near the Porta Laurentina, Rome.

Ostia Archaeological Museum. Inv. No. 99.
Marble relief of Andromeda and Perseus holding the head of Medusa at My Favourite Planet

Marble Neo-Attic relief of Perseus rescuing Andromeda.
Behind his back the hero hides the head of Medusa.

Luna marble. First half of the 1st century AD.

National Archaeological Museum, Naples. Inv. No. 6686. Farnese Collection.
A bronze head of Medusa from one of Caligula's Nemi ships at My Favourite Planet

A bronze head of Medusa from one of Caligula's Nemi ships.

Lost wax cast, finished with burin and chisel.
Made during the reign of Caligula (37-41 AD).

Palazzo Massimo alle Terme. National Museum of Rome.
Marble bust of Medusa by Gian Lorenzo Bernini at My Favourite Planet

Marble bust of Medusa by Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680),
4th-5th decade of the 17th century AD.

Perhaps made during the early years of the papacy of Innocent X, between 1644 and 1648,
when Bernini was out of favour at the papal court. The myth concerning Athena and Medusa,
as related by Ovid, was retold in verse by Giovan Battista Marino. In Marino's version,
Medusa accidentally sees her own petrifying reflection and is herself turned to stone.

Palazzo dei Conservatori, Capitoline Museums, Rome.
Iron parade shield with the head of Medusa at My Favourite Planet

19th century iron parade shield with the head of Medusa as the central boss.

Described as "European", the shield was previously believed to have been
made in the Renaissance, but is now thought to be from the 1800s, imitating
the work of the Milanese armourer Filippo Negroli (circa 1510-1579).

Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. Inv. No. WA. OA1447.
Perseus riding a chariot and brandishing the head of the Gorgon Medusa at My Favourite Planet

Modern bronze sculpture (19th century?) of Perseus riding triumphantly in a chariot
pulled by two winged horses and brandishing the head of the Gorgon Medusa.

The sculpture can sometimes be seen parked on a trailer in various streets of Berlin,
Germany, with a for sale sign. Apparently it is an antique dealer's advertising gimmick.

Photos © David John 2008
Perseus holding the head of the Gorgon Medusa at My Favourite Planet

Perseus raises Medusa's head threateningly. The Gorgon looks a little green.
The facade of the Athena restaurant and bar, Marinella-Selinunte, Sicily at My Favourite Planet

The facade of the Athena restaurant and bar, Marinella-Selinunte, Sicily,
designed in imitation of an ancient Doric temple, with a Gorgoneion
mask and snakes on the pediment, aktroteria and metopes with reliefs.
 
Medusa Notes, references and links

1. The Gorgon in Homer

In The Iliad, Athena puts on the aegis and the Gorgoneion:

"About her shoulders she flung the tasselled aegis, fraught with terror, all about which Rout is set as a crown, and therein is Strife, therein Valour, and therein Onset, that maketh the blood run cold, and therein is the head of the dread monster, the Gorgon, dread and awful, a portent of Zeus that beareth the aegis."

Homer, The Iliad, Book 5, lines 739-740

The Gorgoneion was also part of the decoration on the shield of Agamemnon:

"And thereon was set as a crown the Gorgon, grim of aspect, glaring terribly, and about her were Terror and Rout."

Homer, The Iliad, Book 11, lines 1-46

Homer, The Iliad, translated by A.T. Murray, in two volumes. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.; William Heinemann, London. 1924. At Perseus Digital Library.

In The Odyssey, Odysseus speaks of his terror of the Gorgon's head during his descent to Hades:

"... so many thousands of ghosts came round me and uttered such appalling cries, that I was panic stricken lest Persephone should send up from the house of Hades the head of that awful monster Gorgon."

Homer, The Odyssey, Book 11, 633

Homer, The Odyssey, translated by Samuel Butler. At Perseus Digital Library.

2. The Gorgons in Hesiod

The poet Hesiod (Ἡσίοδος) is thought to have lived between 750 and 650 BC.

"And again, Ceto bore to Phorcys the fair-cheeked Graiae, sisters grey from their birth: and both deathless gods and men who walk on earth call them Graiae, Pemphredo well-clad, and saffron-robed Enyo, and the Gorgons who dwell beyond glorious Ocean in the frontier land towards Night [i.e. the west] where are the clear-voiced Hesperides, Sthenno, and Euryale, and Medusa who suffered a woeful fate: she was mortal, but the two were undying and grew not old. With her lay the Dark-haired One [Poseidon] in a soft meadow amid spring flowers.

And when Perseus cut off her head, there sprang forth great Chrysaor and the horse Pegasus who is so called because he was born near the springs [pegai] of Ocean [Okeanos]; and that other, because he held a golden blade in his hands. Now Pegasus flew away and left the earth, the mother of flocks, and came to the deathless gods: and he dwells in the house of Zeus and brings to wise Zeus the thunder and lightning.

But Chrysaor was joined in love to Callirrhoe, the daughter of glorious Ocean, and begot three-headed Geryones. Him mighty Heracles slew in sea-girt Erythea by his shambling oxen on that day when he drove the wide-browed oxen to holy Tiryns, and had crossed the ford of Ocean and killed Orthus and Eurytion the herdsman in the dim stead out beyond glorious Ocean.

And in a hollow cave she bore another monster, irresistible, in no wise like either to mortal men or to the undying gods, even the goddess fierce Echidna who is half a nymph with glancing eyes and fair cheeks, and half again a huge snake, great and awful, with speckled skin, eating raw flesh beneath the secret parts of the holy earth. And there she has a cave deep down under a hollow rock far from the deathless gods and mortal men. There, then, did the gods appoint her a glorious house to dwell in: and she keeps guard in Arima beneath the earth, grim Echidna, a nymph who dies not nor grows old all her days."

Hesiod, Theogony, lines 270-303.

The myth of Persus and Medusa also appears in the poem Shield of Heracles, attributed to Hesiod, but thought by some scholars to be a later derivative work. It describes the relief of figures and scenes decorating the magic shield.

"There, too, was the son of rich-haired Danae, the horseman Perseus: his feet did not touch the shield and yet were not far from it, very marvellous to remark, since he was not supported anywhere; for so did the famous Lame One [Hephaistos] fashion him of gold with his hands. On his feet he had winged sandals, and his black-sheathed sword was slung across his shoulders by a cross-belt of bronze. He was flying swift as thought. The head of a dreadful monster, the Gorgon, covered the broad of his back, and a bag of silver - a marvel to see - contained it: and from the bag bright tassels of gold hung down."

Hesiod, Shield of Heracles, lines 216-244

Both quotations from Hesiod, The Homeric Hymns and Homerica, translated by Hugh G. Evelyn-White. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.; William Heinemann, London. 1914. At Perseus Digital Library.

3. The myth of Perseus and the Gorgons in Pherecydes

Pherecydes (Φερεκύδης) was a 5th century BC writer, referred to variously as Pherecydes of Leros (Φερεκύδης ὁ Λέριος) or Pherecydes of Athens (Φερεκύδης ὁ Ἀθηναῖος), with differing opinions on whether they were the same person. He is thought to have been a native of the island of Leros who spent much of his life in Athens.

His Genealogies (οι Γενεαλογίαι), also referred to as Histories, was a work of ten books in the Ionian dialect, recording the popular myths of Greek gods and heroes with a particular emphasis on their genealogies. It was possibly written as propoganda, to demonstrate the divine and heroic pedigrees of prominent families in Attica, who may have been his patrons. The original work is lost, but several passages were quoted or used as sources by later ancient writers.

A fragment of Pherecydes' account of the myth of Perseus and Medusa can be read in:

Stephen M. Trzaskoma, R. Scott Smith, Stephen Brunet, Anthology of Classical Myth: Primary Sources in Translation, "Pherecydes, The Histories, fragments", "11 The story of Perseus (fr. 11 Fowler)", page 354. Hackett Publishing, Indianapolis, 2004. At googlebooks.

The Library (Βιβλιοθήκη, Bibliotheki) of Apollodorus, an extensive and important source of Greek mythology, was long attributed to Apollodorus of Athens (Ἀπολλόδωρος ὁ Ἀθηναῖος; circa 180 – after 120 BC). However, many scholars now believe it was written at a later date, around 100-200 AD, and the author is often referred to as Pseudo-Apollodorus. He frequently used Pherecydes' works as a source for his retelling of the myths. Book 2 of the Library, deals at length with the mythical history of Argos and events leading up to Perseus' quest to acquire Medusa's head.

Sir James George Frazer (translator), Apollodorus, The Library, Book 2. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA; William Heinemann Ltd., London. 1921. At Perseus Digital Library.

The translator's notes: "The following legend of Perseus (Apollod. 2.4.1-4) seems to be based on that given by Pherecydes in his second book, which is cited as his authority by the Scholiast on Ap. Rhod., Argon. iv.1091, 1515, whose narrative agrees closely with that of Apollodorus."

For a brief overview of sources of the Perseus myth, see:

Ulrike Kenens, Greek Mythography at Work: The Story of Perseus from Pherecydes to Tzetzes. Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies 52 (2012), pages 147–166.

4. The Gorgons in Euripides

Euripides (Εὐριπίδης, circa 480-406 BC). A speech by Queen Kreusa of Athens, in the tragedy Ion, written around 414 BC.

"Kreusa: There the earth [Gaia] brought forth the Gorgon, a dreadful monster."

Euripides, Ion, lines 966-997

Ion, translated by Robert Potter, in Euripides, The Complete Greek Drama, Volume 1 (of 2), edited by Whitney J. Oates and Eugene O'Neill Jr. Random House, New York, 1938. At Perseus Digital Library.

See also:

Euripides, Ion, written 414-412 BC. Translated by George Theodoridis.

At Poetry in translation, A. S. Kline's FREE Poetry Archive.

Euripides, Heracles, 977, in Euripides, The Complete Greek Drama, edited by Whitney J. Oates and Eugene O'Neill, Jr. in two volumes. 1. Heracles, translated by E. P. Coleridge. Random House, New York, 1938. At Perseus Digital Library.

Euripides is satirized by Aristophanes (circa 446-386 BC) in his comedy Thesmophoriazusae, written in 411 BC:

"Euripides now enters, costumed as Perseus.

Euripides: 'Oh! ye gods! to what barbarian land has my swift flight taken me? I am Perseus; I cleave the plains of the air with my winged feet, and I am carrying the Gorgon's head to Argos.'

Scythian Archer: What, are you talking about the head of Gorgos, the scribe?

Euripides: No, I am speaking of the head of the Gorgon."

Aristophanes, Thesmophoriazusae, Lines 1098-1135

Aristophanes, Women at the Thesmophoria. Eugene O'Neill Jr., The complete Greek drama, Vol. 2. Random House, New York, 1938. At Perseus Digital Library.

5. The home(s) of the Gorgons

a) Near the Garden of Hesperides

The name of Hesperides (Ἑσπερίδες) is derived from hesperos (evening), the origin of the name Hesperus, the evening star (Venus), and was associated with the west. The Hesperides were the nymphs of evening and the golden light of sunset, the "daughters of the evening" or "nymphs of the west". They lived in the Garden of Hesperides at the western edge of the known world, on the world-encircling ocean (Okeanos, the modern Atlantic Ocean), near the Atlas Mountains in North Africa.

It was here that Herakles received the Golden Apples of Hesperides from Atlas. The famous rocks on either side of the Straits of Gibraltar - the boundary between the Mediteranean and the Atlantic - are known as the Pillars of Hercules.

For Hesiod on the home of the Gorgons near the Hesperides, see note 2 above.

b) Libya

The Greeks used the name Libya (Λιβύη) to refer generally to the area of north Africa west of the Nile, known later as Cyrenaica (Κυρηναϊκή, Kyrenaike) after the city of Cyrene (particularly during the Hellenistic and Roman periods), today as the Maghreb. As the name of an area loosely defined in geographical terms, it roughly corresponds to Hesiod's mythological Hesperides.

Herodotus, The Histories, Book 2, chapter 91

Pausanias, Description of Greece, Book 2, chapter 21, sections 5-6

Ovid, Metamorphoses, Book 4 lines 604-705.

All at Perseus Digital Library.

c) Sarpedon

A number of places named Sarpedon (Σαρπηδών) were mentioned by ancient authors, including locations to the east, rather than west, of Greece:

Cape Sarpedon, east of the river Hebros (Evros), Thrace (Strabo, Geography, Book 7, fragments);

Cape Sarpedon in Cilicia, on the south coast of Anatolia (Asia Minor), opposite Cyprus (Strabo, Geography, Book 5, chapter 5 and Pliny the Elder, Natural history, Book 5, chapter 22).

However, a commentary on the poem Song of Geryon by the Sicilian Greek poet Stesichorus (Στησίχορος, Stesikhoros, circa 630-555 BC), mentions Sarpedon as an island in Okeanos, west of Greece:

"Stesikhoros in his Geryoneis calls an island in the Atlantic sea Sarpedonian."

Stesichorus, Geryoneis Fragment S86 (from Scholiast on Apollonius Rhodius).

See: http://www.theoi.com/Kosmos/Erytheia.html

A fragment of an Archaic Greek poem (also from the Song of Geryon?) locates the Gorgons on a western Sarpedon island:

"By him she conceived and bare the Gorgons, fearful monsters who lived in Sarpedon, a rocky island in deep-eddying Oceanus."

Herodian, On Peculiar Diction, The Cypria, Fragment 21: the Gorgons. From the Epic Cycle, fragments of epic poems composed between the 8th and 6th centuries BC, describing the Titan war, the Theban saga and the Trojan War.

See: www.theoi.com/Text/EpicCycle.html

The Song of Geryon deals with myths, including Herakles stealing the cattle of the three-bodied giant Geryon, the grandson of Medusa, on the island Erytheia (Νησος Ερυθεια, Red Isle) in the western Mediterranean.

d) Kisthene

In Aischylos' play Prometheus Bound (written around 430 BC), Prometheus tells Io that the Graiae and Gorgons live at a place called Kisthene on "the Gorgonean plains", east of Greece:

"Well, since you are bent on this, I will not refuse to proclaim all that you still crave to know. First, to you, Io, will I declare your much-vexed wandering, and may you engrave it on the recording tablets of your mind.

When you have crossed the stream that bounds the two continents, toward the flaming east, where the sun walks, ...

crossing the surging sea until you reach the Gorgonean plains of Cisthene, where the daughters of Phorcys dwell, ancient maids, three in number, shaped like swans, possessing one eye amongst them and a single tooth; neither does the sun with his beams look down upon them, nor ever the nightly moon. And near them are their three winged sisters, the snake-haired Gorgons, loathed of mankind, whom no one of mortal kind shall look upon and still draw breath."

Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound, lines 780-818, translated by Herbert Weir Smyth. Harvard University Press. 1926. At Perseus Digital Library.

"The stream that bounds the two continents, toward the flaming east" must refer to the Hellespont, the Sea of Marmara and the Bosphorus which divide Europe from Anatolia (Asia Minor). The virtual traveller must then cross "the surging sea" to reach the Gorgonean plains of Cisthene. The Gorgonean plains are otherwise unknown, but Kisthene (Κισθήνη) was the name of two ancient Greek settlements in Anatolia:

A coastal city of Mysia, northwest of Pergamon, deserted by the time of Strabo (64/63 BC – circa 24 AD, Strabo, Geography, Book 13, chapter 1);

An island with a city of the same name off the coast of Lycia, southwestern Anatolia (Strabo, Geography, Book 14, chapter 3, section 7), identified by some scholars as Kastellorizo.

6. The Gorgons in Ovid's Metamorphoses

The Metamorphoses by Ovid, Book IV, lines 753-803, "Perseus tells the story of Medusa".
At poetryintranslation.com.

A. S. Kline has provided an excellent prose translation in clear modern English. Mythological, historical and geographical names in the text are hyperlinked to a cross-referenced index which also acts as a glossary.

An older, arcane translation:

Brookes More (editor), Ovid, Metamorphoses, Book 4, lines 706 to end. Cornhill Publishing Co., Boston, 1922. At Perseus Digital Library.

In several translations of Ovid, Medusa is "violated" (A. S. Kline) or "abused" (Arthur Golding, 1567) by Poseidon. The earlier versions of the myths do not specify that Poseidon raped Medusa. Hesiod, for example, wrote: "With her lay the Dark-haired One [Poseidon] in a soft meadow amid spring flowers." [see note 2 above] The poetic setting of soft meadow amid spring flowers lends the incident a more tender, almost romantic tone.

7. Perseus and the Gorgon's head in Anatolia

There were other local Greek myths and legends about Perseus' use of the Gorgon's head as a weapon. The Greeks took over an ancient city of Phrygia or Lycaonia in Anatolia which they called Ikonion (Ἰκόνιον, also Εἰκόνιον; Latin, Iconium; today Konya, Turkey). According to local tradition, Perseus defeated the local population there by using the Gorgon's head (εἰκών, icon, image), founded the city and set up the Gorgoneion on a pillar. Coins of Ikonion show Perseus walking left, holding a harpa and the head of Medusa.

8. Pausanias on the Acropolis Gorgoneion

Pausanias, Description of Greece, Book I, chapter 21, section 3. English translation by W.H.S. Jones and H.A. Ormerod, in 4 Volumes. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA; William Heinemann, London, 1918. At Perseus Digital Library.

In February 1395, Νiccοlo da Martoni, a notary from Capua, visited Athens on his return to Italy from a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and was shown the two columns of the Choragic Monument of Thrasyllos, below the south wall of the Acropolis. He was told that between them formerly stood an idol which had the power to sink hostile ships as they appeared on the horizon. The idol may have been the gilded head of the Gorgon Medusa mentioned by Pausanias.

See:

James Morton Paton, Chapters on Mediaeval and Renaissance visitors to Greek lands, edited by L.A.P., Chapter 3 Niccolò da Martoni, pages 30-35. Gennadeion Monographs III. The American School of Classical Studies at Athens, Princeton, New Jersey, 1951. PDF e-book at ascsa.edu.gr.

Crusader Athens III: Florentine Athens (1388 - 1456) by John L. Tomkinson. At anagnosis.gr.

9. Medusa on coins

See the photos and articles at medusacoins.reidgold.com.

10. Medusa: from beast to beauty

See: Susan M. Serfontein, Medusa: from beast to beauty in Archaic and Classical illustrations from Greece and south Italy. M.A. thesis. Hunter College of the City University of New York, 1991.

"The primary aim of this thesis is to determine when the transformation of Medusa from a hideous monster into a beautiful woman initially occurs and whether this transformation is simultaneous with regard to both her full-figure representations and the gorgoneia."

11. Servius on the aegis

Maurus Servius Honoratus, Commentary on the Aeneid of Vergil, A. 8.435, (in Latin). Edited by Georgius Thilo. B. G. Teubner, Leipzig, 1881. At Perseus Digital Library.

12. Earliest depictions of the Gorgon myth

1) The earliest known depiction of a Gorgon is on a Cycladic terracotta pithos (amphora) found in Thebes, Boeotia (1897), dated to around 670 BC, decorated with an incised and stamped relief depicting Perseus killing Medusa.

Medusa is shown as a female centaur: naked, in human form to the waist; the body and hind legs of a horse project behind her, below the waist. Her midriff and front legs appear to be covered by a belted skirt which covers the feet (perhaps a solution to the problem of whether to show the front feet as human or equine). Her head and upper body face frontally, the equine part is shown in profile. A long hair braid hangs from either side of her triangular head. She has large round eyes and sharp, triangular teeth. She also has very long, slim fingers, and both figures look undernourished.

The depiction of Medusa as a centaur may have been due to an association with the story of her sexual relationship with Poseidon, who was also worshipped as Hippios (Ἵππιος), "tamer of horses". According to one myth he mated with a creature who consequently gave birth to the first horse. Pegasus, who sprang from the body or blood of the slain Medusa, was considered by some mythographers to be her child from Poseidon.

Perseus, also with large round eyes and long braids, stands in profile to her left. He wears Hades' cap which makes him invisible, a short chiton and Hermes' winged boots. A scabbard is slung on his back, and from a long strap around his right shoulder hangs the kibisis (κίβισις), the pouch he has taken from the Nymphs to contain Medusa's head. With his left hand he grasps one of Medusa's braids, and with the other he is cutting through her throat with his sword. His head is turned backwards so that he can avoid her deadly glare.

Louvre, Paris. Inv. No. CA 795. Height of amphora 130 cm.

2) A fragment of another amphora from Thebes, also dated to around circa 670 BC, has part of a similar relief showing Perseus in the same way.

Louvre, Paris. Inv. No. CA 937.

See also an Archaic Corinthian vase in the form of Medusa riding Pegasus above.

3) Bronze fragments of a large hammered ring (originally a disc), diameter 77 cm, surrounding a cut-out, shallow sheet relief figure of a Gorgon. From the Athens Acropolis, mid 7th century BC. Thought to be an akroterion (roof decoration) from the pediment of a small temple on the Acropolis, perhaps the first temple of Athena Polias, a predecessor of the Erechtheion. This is the earliest known depiction of a Gorgon from the Aropolis.

The remains of the frontal Gorgon figure appear to be of very primitive workmanship, although it is difficult to imagine how it looked when it was complete, with other attachments and probably coloured. The large head sits directly on the remains of the wings; the inner edges of their bases touch on the breast. A long chiton reaches to just above the ankles, revealing feet which are also shown frontally. The garment is drawn at the waist, suggesting it was girdled.

A bow-shaped ridge at the top of the head marks her hairline. The eyebrows, formed by another ridge like a simple drawing of the outline of a flying bird, appears to be attached (i.e. continues on the same raised plane) to a broad flaring nose. The eyes are glaring but unremarkable. The rectangular mouth has rows of square teeth, fangs at each end and a tongue hanging above a squarish cleft chin. It looks like an early attempt at the lion-mask form.

It has been suggested that the figure represents "Potnia Theron", Mistress of Animals (as on the plate from Kamiros, Rhodes above), and perhaps held a lion with each hand.

Acropolis Museum, Athens. Inv. No. 13050.
(Formerly in the National Archaelogical Museum, Athens)

4) A fragment of an ivory relief from the sanctuary of Hera on Samos, dated to the fourth quarter 7th century BC, also shows Perseus killing Medusa. The quality of the carving is superb.

Perseus, with his hair in long braids, faces frontally. He wears a conical cap or helmet, a short chiton, belted at the waist, and a strap passing diagonally from his right shoulder, across his chest to the waist. With his left hand he grasps Medusa's enormous head, and with his right hand he decapitates her with a sword. The frontal head is in the form of the lion-mask, which must be one of the earliest of this type. Her huge winged body can be seen falling behind the head. The head, arm and hand of another figure can be seen on the left of Perseus. This is probably Athena encouraging the hero.

Samos Archaeological Museum. Inv. No. E1.

5) Fragments of a small, rectangular ivory relief from Sparta, circa 630-620 BC, showing Perseus decapitating Medusa in a similar way. The fragments are incomplete, but Perseus appears to be standing in profile, with the sword in his right hand, and his left grasping snakes which grow from Medusa's head.

The winged Gorgon, wearing a long skirt, is kneeling, with her back to him, and he has his left foot on the back of her calves. As noted by the archaeologist Alan Johnston, commenting on the similar pose of Odysseus blinding the Cyclops Polyphemos on the "Eleusis Amphora": "He kneels on his opponent like a pharaoh." * The head of Medusa too appears to be influenced by Egyptian art, although the state of the fragments allow no certainty. The plaque has been reconstructed to show her with a potruding tongue. Both figures appear to have bare feet.

National Archaeological Museum, Athens. Inv. No. 15365.

* Alan Johnston, Pre-Classical Greece, in John Boardman (editor), The Oxford history of classical art, page 32. Oxford University Press, 1993.

6) A bronze shield brand from Olympia, circa 560 BC, shows Athena taking an active part in killing the Gorgon. Winged Medusa, in a frontal kneeling/fleeing position, has four snakes rising from her head. Perseus on the left, and Athena on the right (both in profile), each grasp one of the snakes with their left hands. Athena appears to be holding on to Medusa's neck with her right hand. Perseus is looking away from Medusa and about to decapitate her with the sword in his right hand. He wears a cap and a short, belted chiton with a diagonal shoulder strap, but is naked below the waist. All three figures are barefooted.

Medusa wears a short, belted chiton, and her straight wings are lowered. With her bent left arm she reaches up to her right shoulder, perhaps about to defend herself from Perseus' sword. Her right hand appears to be grasping the under side of her left thigh. Her head is shown as a variant of the lion-mask.

Olympia Archaeological Museum. Inv. No. B 975.

13. Greek influence on Gorgon iconography in Sicily

Although a number of Archaic depictions of Gorgons have been attributed to Corinthian workshops (for example, the terracotta metopes from Thermon above), Katrina Marie Heller has pointed out that "Corinth has only one recorded Gorgon found on temple architecture, Crete, as seen has a total of eight across the whole island, Megara Hyblaea, in Sicily has only one, and the Greek Megara does not show a record of any Gorgons."

Katrina Marie Heller, Iconography of the Gorgons on temple decoration in Sicily and Western Greece, pages 28-29. BSc thesis. The Archaeological Studies Program, Department of Sociology and Archaeology, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, 2010.

Ms Heller's figures are based on data collected by Janer Belson, who recorded the number of Gorgons found throughout the Greek world for her 1981 PhD dissertation, The Gorgoneion in Greek architecture (Bryn Mawr College). Heller also addresses several other questions, including whether Gorgon iconography was developed independently on Sicily, and whether Gorgon imagery had an apotropaic or merely decorative function.
 

14. The Hekatompedon Gorgon reconstruction

The excellent official guidebook to the new Acropolis Museum includes a drawing of the reconstruction with superimposed photos of the two fragments, but without comment, and there is no mention of it in the main text.

Dimitrios Pandermalis, Stamatia Eletheratou, Christina Vlassopoulou, Acropolis Museum Guide, fig. 109, page 106 and page 108. Acropolis Museum Editons, Athens, 2014.

The substantial Latsis volume on the Old Acropolis Museum includes photos of the Gorgon head and the reconstruction, but is equally tacit about its history and the reconstruction.

Ismene Trianti, The Acropolis Museum, page 29 and figs. 2-3. John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation and EFG Eurobank Ergasias S.A.. OLKOS, Athens, 1998. 452 pages. E-book in English and Greek at the Latsis Foundation website.

15. Wilhelm Dörpfeld on the Hekatompedon

See, for example:

Wilhelm Dörpfeld, Untersuchungen am Parthenon, Seiten 283-362 and Tafel XII, in Mittheilungen des Deutschen Archäologischen Institutes in Athen, sechster Jahrgang. Karl Wilberg, Athen, 1881.

16. The Gorgon fragments in the Acropolis museum

"6th shelf. Various. No. 3798 shews a hand holding two snakes - in relief. Schrader (op. cit., p.6, fig.3) assigns it to the Gorgon head, No. 701."

Stanley Casson, Catalogue of the Acropolis Museum, Volume II: Sculpture and architectural fragments, page 305. Cambridge University Press, 1921. At archive.org.

17. Schrader's reconstruction of the Hekatompedon gable

Hans Schrader, Archaische Marmor-Skulpturen im Akropolis-Museum zu Athen, Seiten 5-16. Österreichisches Archäologisches Institut. A. Hölder, Wien, 1909. At archive.org.

18. Support for Schrader's reconstruction

"Schrader has rightly restored the figure as a running gorgon by the help of some other fragments in the museum, and has fixed it as the central akroterion of the oldest Athena temple. In style the face shews close resemblance to the Moschophoros, especially in the treatment of the grooves between eyelids and eyebrows, and in the folds outlining nostrils and mouth."

Guy Dickins, Catalogue Of The Acropolis Museum, Volume I: Archaic Sculpture, page 269. Cambridge University Press, 1912. At archive.org.
 

19. The "Brother and Sister Stele"

Tall marble grave stele, known as the "Brother and Sister Stele", said to be from Attica. High Archaic, circa 540-530 BC. Total heigt 423.4 cm.

The main part of the stele has a low relief of a youth and young girl in profile, facing right. From a fragmentary inscription, it is thought that they may represent children of Megakles. It is topped with a seated sphinx with sickle shaped wings. The body is in profile, facing right, but the head is frontal, with long wavy hair and a diadem decorated with a painted maeander.

The stele, reconstructed from several fragments, is on display in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Inv. No. 11.185a–d, f, g, x.

A further fragment, with traces of colour, showing the head and hand of the girl holding a pomegranate is in the Staatliche Museen, Berlin. Inv. No. 1531.

20. Gorgon from the "Kalliades Stele", New York

The Archaic marble slab from Attica is part of the grave stele of "Kalliades, son of Thoutimides", identified from a three line inscription on the bottom left corner. Circa 550–525 BC.

The front of the slab is almost completely taken up by the figure of a running/flying Gorgon, in a pose similar to the Gorgon Stele in Athens. However, the figure is much more dynamic, and since she is not confined by a base line or frame, appears to flying in space. In the museum's description she is described as "fleeing", but a fleeing monster would hardly inspire confidence as a fearsome apotropaic protectress.

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Inv. No. 55.11.4.

See: www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/254818

See also the grave stele of Aristion sculpted by Aristokles.

21. Protome

A protome (Greek, προτομή, foremost or upper part of something; from the verb προτέμνειν, protemnein, to cut off the front) is a depiction of the head, bust or forepart of an animal, human or fabulous creature, usually a frontal view, in art and architectural decoration, on utensils, coins, etc.

22. Gorgon with krobylos from Gela

See: Marina Castoldi, Vera da cisterna con Gorgoneia da Gela, Numismatica e antichità classiche (Quaderni Ticinesi), XXXIX, 2010, pages 61-76.

23. Perseus beheading Medusa in New York

See also an Attic red-figure pelike (jar), circa 450–440 BC, attributed to Polygnotos, with a finely drawn depiction of Perseus beheading the sleeping Medusa. Perseus, naked except for cloak, winged cap and boots, looks back to Athena while using a harpe to decapitate Medusa as she sleeps. One of the earliest depictions of Medusa as a beautiful young woman rather than a hideous monster.

Metropolitan Museum, New York. Inv. No. 45.11.1.

See: metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/254523

24. Gorgon mosaic in Terrace House 2, Ephesus

See: David Parrish, Architectural function and decorative programs in the terrace houses in Ephesos, Topoi, volume 7/2, 1997, pages 579-633. At persee.fr.

An important article on the decoration of the Hangäuser, with plans, photos and citations of the key studies of the subect. Parrish refers to Terrace House 2, Dwelling Unit 3 (on the plan "Hanghaus 2, Wohnung 3") as House 3.

25. Campana plates

Campana plates, also known as Campana reliefs, are named after the Italian art collector Giampietro Campana (1808-1880) who acquired a large collections of ancient Greek and Roman artifacts, and who first published information about the reliefs in 1842.
 

26. Caryatid from Eleusis in Cambridge

Photo and further details at:

data.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/id/object/65755


The sculpture was seen at Eleusis by des Mouceaux in 1668 and by Spon and Wheler on 5th February 1676. Spon, Wheler, Clarke and other early northern European travellers to Greece (Pococke, Montfaucon) were convinced that the sculpture was the upper part of a colossal statue of Ceres (Demeter).

Clarke (1769-1822) obtained a firman from the Waiwode (Turkish governer, see Athens Acropolis gallery page 1) of Athens to remove the sculpture, much to the indignation of many people for whom it remained sacred. Clarke himself remarked on the local tradition, quoting Richard Chandler, who believed the statue represented Proserpine (Persephone):

"A tradition prevails, that if the broken Statue be removed, the fertility of the land will cease. Achmet Aga [the Turkish military commander] was fully possessed with this superstition, and declined permitting us to dig or measure there, until I had overcome his scruples by a present of a handsome snuff-box, containing several zechins or pieces of gold."

Richard Chandler (1738-1810), Travels in Greece, page 191. Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1776.

Clarke also reported:

"... as often as foreigners came to remove the Statue, some disaster ensued. They believed that the arm of any person who offered to touch it with violence, would drop drop off; and said, that once being taken from her station by the French, she returned back in the night to her former situation."

"But the superstition of the inhabitants of Eleusis, respecting an idol which they all regarded as the protectress of their fields, was not the least obstacle to be overcome. (They maintained that no ship would ever get safe into port with the Statue on board; and the prediction was amply verified in the wreck of the Princessa.)

On the evening preceding the removal of the Statue, an accident happened, which had nearly put an end to the undertaking. While the inhabitants were conversing with the Turkish officer who brought the Firman from the Waiwode of Athens, an ox, loosed from its yoke, came and placed itself before the Statue, and, after butting with its horns for some time against the marble, ran off with considerable speed, bellowing, into the plain of Eleusis. Instantly a general murmur prevailed; and several women joining in the clamour, it was with difficulty any proposal could be made. 'They had been always,' they said, 'famous for their corn; and the fertility of the land would cease when the Statue was removed.' These are exactly the words of Cicero with respect to the Sicilians, when Verres removed the Statue of Ceres [statues of Demeter and Triptolemus from the Temple at Enna]: 'Quod, Cerere violata, omnes cultus fructusque Cereris in his locis interiisse arbitrantur.' (Cicero in Verr. lib. iv. c. 5 I.)

At length, however, these scruples were removed; and on the following morning, November 22nd 1801, the Priest of Eleusis, arrayed in his vestments as for high mass, descended into the hollow in which the Statue was partially buried, to strike the first blow with a pickaxe for the removal of the rubbish, that the people might be convinced no calamity would befall the labourers."

On 23 November 1801 the statue was put on a Casiot ship at the port of Eleusis and taken to Smyrna (Izmir), "where the Statue was again moved into the Princessa merchantman, Captain Lee. In her passage home, this vessel was wrecked and lost near Beachy Head; but the Statue was recovered, and finally reached its destination."

"Herein was completely verified the augury of the Eleusiniaus ; who were so convinced of the disaster which was to befall the vessel, that the news of the wreck has served to confirm them in their superstitions concerning the Statue. It may be amusing to add, that subsequent travellers, having visited the spot since the Statue was removed, have been much entertained with the stories they relate. The first year after the departure of the Goddess, their corn proved very abundant, and they were in constant expectation that Ceres would return. The next year, however, was not so favourable; and they begin to fear she has deserted them. 'It would have been impossible,' they say, 'without witchcraft, to have carried her off.'"

Edward Daniel Clarke, Greek marbles brought from the shores of the Euxine, Archipelago, and Mediterranean and deposited in the vestibule of the public library of the University of Cambridge, pages 13-37. Cambridge University Press, 1809. At archive.org. The drawing, above right, is on page 31.
 
Drawing of the caryatid from Eleusis now in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge at My Favourite Planet

Drawing by John Flaxman (1755-1826)
of the caryatid from Eleusis now in the
Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, with
the face restored.
Engraved by Peltro William Tomkins.

Source: Edward Daniel Clarke, Greek
marbles brought from the shores
of the Euxine...
, see below, left.
 
Photos on this page were taken during
visits to the following museums:

Germany
Berlin, Altes Museum
Berlin, Bode Museum
Berlin, Neues Museum
Dresden, Skulpturensammlung, Albertinum
Dresden, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Münzkabinett

Greece
Athens, Acropolis Museum
Athens, National Archaeological Museum
Delphi Archaeological Museum
Dion Archaeological Museum, Macedonia
Eleusis Archaeological Museum, Attica
Kavala Archaeological Museum, Macedonia
Nafplion Archaeological Museum, Peloponnese
Thasos Archaeological Museum, Macedonia
Thessaloniki Archaeological Museum, Macedonia
Veria Archaeological Museum, Macedonia

Italy
Naples, National Archaeological Museum
Ostia Archaeological Museum
Paestum, National Archaeological Museum, Campania
Rome, Capitoline Museums, Palazzo dei Conservatori
Rome, National Etruscan Museum, Villa Giulia
Rome, National Museum of Rome, Baths of Diocletian
Rome, National Museum of Rome, Palazzo Massimo

Italy - Sicily
Agrigento Regional Archaeological Museum
Catania, Museo Civico, Castello Ursino
Gela Regional Archaeological Museum
Palermo, Antonino Salinas Archaeological Museum
Syracuse, Paolo Orsi Regional Archaeological Museum

Turkey
Bergama (Pergamon) Archaeological Museum
Didyma archaeological site
Ephesus Archaeological Museum, Selçuk
Ephesus archaeological site
Istanbul Archaeological Museums
Istanbul, Basilica Cistern
Izmir Archaeological Museum
Izmir Museum of History and Art
Manisa Archaeological Museum

United Kingdom
London, British Museum
Oxford, Ashmolean Museum

Many thanks to the staff of these museums,
especially at Dion, Gela, Manisa and Veria.

Flying Gorgon pendant from Agrigento, Sicily at My Favourite Planet

Flying Gorgon pendant from Agrigento,
Sicily. Second half of the 6th century BC.

Paolo Orsi Archaeological Museum,
Syracuse, Sicily.
Photos and articles © David John
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