Perseus Slaying Medusa

The scene of Perseus slaying Medusa is one of the most represented in paintings. You'll see that sometimes Medusa was pictured as being beautiful (except for the hair made of snakes), other times as a monster.

Goddess Athena gave Perseus a polished bronze shield, to be used as a mirror (by the way, at that time the mirrors were really made of bronze very well polished; but the shields usually had images on them, to frighten the enemy).

Minerva Putting His Shield Perseus with Whom He Must Fight the Medusa


Minerva Putting His Shield Perseus with Whom He Must Fight the Medusa
Houasse, René...
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Here we can see that both Athena and Hermes were there to assist him:

Square Panel Canted: Perseus Beheading Medusa


Square Panel Canted: Perseus Beheading Medusa
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On this ancient amphora you can see Perseus with the winged sandals, the helmet and the sickle. Medusa's head is in the sack he's wearing on his shoulder and goddess Athena is there to help him.

Red-Figure Amphora, Showing the Slaying of Medusa by Perseus


Red-Figure Amphora, Showing the Slaying of Medusa by Perseus
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An ancient metope of Perseus slaying Medusa - she's really ugly here!

Relief Depicting Perseus Helping Athena to Kill the Gorgon, Metope from the Temple of Selinunte


Relief Depicting Perseus Helping Athena to Kill the Gorgon, Metope from the Temple of Selinunte
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I like this picture very much, because of the dynamism that the flying snakes add to the scene.

Medusa and Perseus


Medusa and Perseus
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This is a representation which is faithful to the texts describing the scene of Perseus slaying Medusa: Athena is there to help him, the Gorgon is sleeping and the hero is using the shield as a mirror, in order to avoid looking directly at the monster.

Perseus Kills Medusa


Perseus Kills Medusa
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In this engraving we see Perseus with the head of Medusa and the winged horse Pegasus, born from the neck of the slain monster.

Medusa Leader of the Gorgons is Not an Easy Lady to Subdue But Perseus


Medusa Leader of the Gorgons is Not an Easy Lady to Subdue But Perseus
Briot, J.
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In this fresco from Villa Farnesina (Rome, Italy), by Baldassare Peruzzi, the character with the trumpet is in fact Pegasus, represented as Fame (I have noticed that her wings have the colours of the Italian flag, but I couldn't find yet an explanation about the choice of colours). The trumpet indicates the coat of arms of the Chigi family (the owners of the villa). In the lower part we can see persons who were turned into stone because they looked at the Gorgon and we can also see Pegasus' head. The whole fresco is a representation of the constellation Perseus.

Perseus and the Medusa, Ceiling Decoration from the "Sala Di Galatea," 1511-12


Perseus and the Medusa, Ceiling Decoration from the "Sala Di Galatea," 1511-12
Peruzzi,...
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In this fresco from Palazzo Farnese (Rome, Italy) by Annibale Caracci, we see Perseus slaying Medusa, helped by Minerva and Mercurius (the meaning of the scene was that, without the gods' help, he wouldn't have made it on his own). The other two gorgons are asleep.

Lunette Depicting Perseus Slaying the Medusa, from the "Camerino", 1596


Lunette Depicting Perseus Slaying the Medusa, from the "Camerino", 1596
Carracci,...
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An engraving by Giulio Romano.

Perseus, c.1540


Perseus, c.1540
Romano, Giulio
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And a modern rendition - you will see that here the body of the Medusa is represented according to the description of the Gorgons, who had scaly skin, claws and wings.

Perseus and the Medusa


Perseus and the Medusa
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The next ones are two famous sculptures of Perseus with the head of Medusa. The first one is by the Italian sculptor Antonio Canova (1757-1822).

Perseus with the Head of Medusa, c.1806-08


Perseus with the Head of Medusa, c.1806-08
Canova, Antonio
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An the well-known Benvenuto Cellini's Perseus, in Florence, Italy.

Perseus with the Head of Medusa, 1545-53


Perseus with the Head of Medusa, 1545-53
Cellini,...
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Perseus, Conserved in Loggia Della Signoria, Florence


Perseus, Conserved in Loggia Della Signoria, Florence
Balocchi,...
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Of course that, after killing the Gorgon, he was chased by her sisters, the Gorgons:

Attic Black-Figure Dinos Depicting Perseus Fleeing from the Gorgons, circa 590 BC


Attic Black-Figure Dinos Depicting Perseus Fleeing from the Gorgons, circa 590 BC
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Perseus and the Gorgons


Perseus and the Gorgons
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At his wedding with Andromeda, her ex-betrothed crashed the wedding, protesting gainst it. After a fight with him and his men, Perseus showed them the head of Medusa.

Perseus with Minerva Showing the Head of Medusa Toa Mob Led by Phineus


Perseus with Minerva Showing the Head of Medusa Toa Mob Led by Phineus
Nattier,...
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Perseus Showing the Gorgon's Head, 'The Greek Mythological Legend', Published in London, 1910


Perseus Showing the Gorgon's Head, 'The Greek Mythological Legend', Published in London, 1910
Crane, Walter
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Perseus Turns Phineus to Stone by Brandishing the Head of Medusa, 1908


Perseus Turns Phineus to Stone by Brandishing the Head of Medusa, 1908
Stuck, Franz von
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Perseus and Phineus


Perseus and Phineus
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After all these adventures, Perseus return to the court of king Polydectes, the one who had ordered him to bring Medusa's head. The king couldn't believe that he had accomplished his mission, so he asked for a proof... and the hero showed him what he had!

Perseus and Polydectes


Perseus and Polydectes
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When the hero finished his life, the gods took him and put him in the sky, together with his wife Andromeda and his mother-in-law, Cassiopeia: that's how the constellation Perseus was born (and also the constellations Andromeda and Cassiopeia). The following paintings are trying to "join the dots" (the stars) so as to get the hero with his sword and with the head of Medusa.

Perseus and Andromeda


Perseus and Andromeda
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Perseus and Medusa


Perseus and Medusa
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Constellation of Perseus and Andromeda, from "Atlas Coelestis," by John Flamsteed, Pub. in 1729


Constellation of Perseus and Andromeda, from "Atlas Coelestis," by John Flamsteed, Pub. in 1729
Thornhill, Sir...
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Perseus with the Head of Medusa, from "Uranometria"


Perseus with the Head of Medusa, from "Uranometria"
Bayer, Johann
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Perseus Who Rescued Andromeda from the Monster and Slew Medusa


Perseus Who Rescued Andromeda from the Monster and Slew Medusa
Hyginus, Gaius...
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Perseus Wearing His Winged Sandals Holding the Dismembered Head of Medusa by Her Serpent Hair


Perseus Wearing His Winged Sandals Holding the Dismembered Head of Medusa by Her Serpent Hair
Hall, Sidney
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Click here for the first part of the story of Perseus.

Click here for the whole story of Perseus slaying Medusa.

Click here for the love story between Perseus and Andromeda.