I/Eye: On Photography

Turned into stone

Posted in Uncategorized by Sheila Newbery on August 20, 2009

From the Oxford Classical Dictionary, 2nd ed., N. G. L. Hammond and H. H. Scullard, eds. Oxford: Clarendon Press (1970; reprinted 1991):

Gorgo or Medusa: a terrible monster in Greek mythology, Gorgo was the daughter of the marine deities Phorcys and Ceto. She had a round, ugly face, snakes instead of hair, a belt of the teeth of a wild boar, sometimes a beard, huge wings, and eyes that could transform people into stone….In the classical period Gorgo is humanized, and Hellenistic representations develop a definitely beautiful type of head for the dying maiden Gorgo. Her head always remained a popular apotropaic symbol.

And, in case you were wondering:

apotropaic: adj. designed to avert evil <an apotropaic ritual>.
Etymology: Greek apotropaios, from apotrepein to avert, from
apo- + trepein to turn. (Source: http://www.merriamwebster.com)

In classical myth, Perseus is said to have given the Medusa’s head to Athena, who put it on Zeus’ shield.

Medusa (Epidaurus, 2008) © Sheila Newbery

Medusa (Epidaurus, 2008) © Sheila Newbery

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