OFF WITH HER HEAD: Medusa, Women and Power

Multiple works by ancient sources, including varying origin stories, provide a wide-ranging and diverse picture of Medusa. From early Archaic representations of her as a terrifying figure with a protruding tongue, full beard, bulging eyes, tusks and wings, she slowly morphed into something more dangerous – a beauty. L-R: Archaic Greek terracotta stand ca. 570 BCE (MET Museum); Gold pendant in the form of a gorgoneion (Gorgon's face) c. 450 BCE (MET Museum) In Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Medusa was the only mortal of three sisters known as the Gorgons (literally ‘dreadful’). The sea god Poseidon became infatuated with this beautiful young woman admired for her luxuriant hair so he pursued Medusa an

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