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Art of the Day: Monday April 14, 2008

Medusa

- by John Thompson

This week's theme: Medusa

Medusa, more so than many other figures in myth and legend, has captured imaginations. She is often represented in art and literature. She is easily recognized by the snakes that are her hair and her often hideous countenance. We make references to her and we certainly know her when we see her, but how many of us really know the story of Medusa? For those who never really knew and for those who's memory has become foggy, here - in brief, is the story of Medusa.

Medusa was a Gorgon. She was one of three sisters and the only one who was mortal. Originally, she was a beautiful maiden with glorious, golden hair. While in the Temple Of Athena, she lay with Poseidon. The desecration of her temple so outraged Athena, that she turned Medusa's hair into living snakes and put on her the destructive power of turning whoever looked directly at her into stone. Perseus, in his quest to free his mother Danae from King Polydectes, was sent to kill Medusa and return with her head. He later used her head as a weapon but eventually gave it to Athena. Medusa was the mother of Pegasus and the giant Chrysaor. When slain, drops of her blood fell into the sea and from these, they were born.


Art: Medusa by Artist John Thompson
The Medusa myth has always fascinated me. Before doing any research into its origins, I believed that she was probably always very beautiful, but rumored to be hideous in order to hide or hoard that beauty. Upon researching the myth, it appears the Greek gods had reason to be threatened by old and powerful fertility based cults. I chose to portray Medusa in all her original glory.

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