Perseus, the Maiden Medusa, and the Imagery of Abduction

by Kathryn Topper

Hesperia, Volume 76, Issue 1
Page(s): 73-105
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25068013
Year: 2007


Focusing on Classical red-figure vases, the author argues that the appearance of the beautiful Medusa, which has been explained previously as an evolutionary development from the monstrous Archaic type, is determined by discursive context rather than by chronology. Painters used the beautiful Gorgon to convey certain messages about Perseus's victory, though it is not always clear whether she is meant to evoke humor or pathos. The author further shows that Medusa's death was figured as a perversion of the erotic abductions common to many Greek myths, and points out the beautiful Gorgon's affinities with abducted maidens such as Persephone, Thetis, and Helen.