Lormet-Greek-Antiquity-0992 Picture

The severed head of Medusa stares out from the convex face of a two-sided relief. Its psychological realism, simultaneously beautiful and hideous, reveals the conflicting yet symbiotic emotions of attraction and repulsion. This combination expresses the power of ancient Greek apotropaic objects, charms that warded off evil. Since the sight of Medusa's face--transformed by the goddess Athena into a monster with snakes for hair--had turned men into stone, it became a traditional apotropaic symbol. Athena affixed the actual Medusa's monstrous head to her shield, and human warriors followed suit.

Photo taken at the J. Paul Getty Museum.
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