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HESPERIA 76

Pages

73-ios

(2007)

1. For

useful

suggestions

Guy

on

drafts

Hedreen,

Hen

Albert

Hes

grateful

to

audiences

and Harvard

of

this

article,

I thank

Laurialan

Reitzammer,

richs,

and

the

two

peria

reviewers.

I am

Melissa

Haynes

and

at Rutgers

University

to

anonymous

also

University

gestions,

Classics

covered

for

their

advice

and

sug

and

to

the Department

of

at Harvard

the

cost

of

University,

the

which

illustrations.

I am especially indebted toGloria

Ferrari

Pinney,

who

read

drafts

and

provided

advice

 

stage.

2. Hes.

[Si]

229-237,

Evelyn-White,

Cambridge,

 

1914.

?

The

American

 

School

numerous

at

every

trans. H.

Mass.,

G.

of

Classical

PERSEUS,

THE

MEDUSA,

THE

AND

IMAGERY

ABDUCTION

MAIDEN

OF

ABSTRACT

Focusing

on Classical

the beautiful Medusa,

red-figure

which

vases,

has been

the

author

explained

argues

that

previously

the

appearance

of

as an evolutionary

development

context

from

the monstrous

chronology.

rather

than by

Archaic

Painters

type,

is determined

used

the beautiful

by discursive

b y discursive

Gorgon

to

convey

certain

messages

about

Perseus's

victory,

though

it

is not

always

clear

whether

Medusa's

to many

she ismeant

s h e i s m e a n t
death was

death was

Greek

myths,

to evoke humor

figured

or pathos. The

author

further shows that

common

with

as a perversion

out

of the erotic

abductions

and points

the beautiful

Gorgon

s affinities

abducted maidens

such as Persephone,

Thetis,

and Helen.

Among

the flight

the events

of Perseus

unforgettably

vivid

depicted

on

the Pseudo-Hesiodic

from Medusas

sisters.1 The

terms:

Tai ?? uet'

ccutov

poet

shield

of Herakles

renders

the

scene

is

in

Topyovec ccttatito? xe koci on (paxal eppcoovio

??peva? uocTc?eiv. etc! ?? %?copou ??auocvxo?

?awouaecov ??%eoK?gcxko? juey?Acoopuuay?q)

?c^?a Kai ?ay?co?/ em ?? ?covpoi ?pcxKovxe

?OIG)

?7Ul?)p?UVT'

?7UK\)pTG)OVT?

Kapnva.

Atxjia?ov ?' apa xco y?* p?v?i ?' ?x?paaaov o?ovxa?

?ypia ?Epicopivco. ?nl ?? ?Eivo?ai Kapf|voi?

Topy??oi? ??ov??TO p?ya? Oo?oc.

And

after him

rushed

the Gorgons,

unapproachable

and unspeakable,

longing

rang

their girdles with

and

to seize him:

as they

trod upon

the pale

Two

adamant,

serpents

tongues were

the

hung

shield

down

sharp and clear with

their

heads

teeth gnashing

a loud clanging.

curved

with

forward:

fury, and

their

flickering,

fiercely. And

their eyes glaring

upon

the awful heads

of the Gorgons

great Fear was

quaking.2

at

This

description

startling

that

the

of

the Gorgons

shield

itself

as creatures whose

cries

out

under

their

monstrousness

feet

seems

is

so

a fitting

Studies

at Athens

74

KATH

RYN

TOPPER

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literary

counterpart

to

the

numerous

whose

images

heads

in Greek

are

art

of

with

bearded,

snakes

has

on

surfaces

creatures

interested

Vernant

has

fanged,

and

grimacing

Gorgons

and whose

penetrating

frontal

stare,

observed,

seems

to disrupt

the very

which

the

images

are painted

(Fig.

remain

in issues

a source of fascination

of

representation?for

remarked,

perceptively

every

attempt

at

covered

as Fran?oise

two-dimensionality I).3 It is no wonder

Frontisi-Ducroux

of

the

that these

those

for commentators,

the Gorgon,

herself

especially

as Jean-Pierre

presents

as "amonster

whose

horror

thwarts

reveals

that Medusa

and her

sisters

face

from

the

one

that has

held

so

figuration."4

Yet,

sometimes

even

a glance

at the

images

assumed

quite

assumed q u i t e a different

a different

many

scholars

transfixed.

Some

images

present

the Gorgons

as distinctly

beautiful,

A

good

virtually

example

indistinguishable

appears

shows

on

Perseus

is

a pair

of

is that

in tight

curls

from

goddesses

pelike

or human

maidens.5

the

only

in

her

than

a red-figure

about

of wings

an ordinary

around

her

from

the middle

whose

of

presented

even

and

snakelike

5th

extrahuman

century, which

feature

view,

falls

to behead

(Fig.

a Gorgon

face,

2).6 Her

three-quarter

hair, which

sleeping

face,

woman,

is no more

3. Athens,

cal Museum.

National

Archaeologi

Frontisi-Ducroux

1988;

1995,

4.

Mack

5.

pp.

65-74.

Vernant

2002.

Partial

1991b,

catalogues

p.

144;

of

the

see

also

images

include Floren

1977; LIMC

IV, 1988,

pp.

285-330,

(I. Krauskopf

s.v. Gorgo,

and

S.-C.

Gorgones

Dahlinger).

OccasionaUy,

wings

Medusa

lacks

from

even

snakes

or discreetly

distinguish

Berlin,

placed

her

usually

women:

human

Staatliche

Museen

the

that

F

3022;

LCS

487,

no.

335.

St. Peters

Figure 1. Gorgoneion,painted

metope,Temple of Apollo at

Thermon, ca.625-600 b.c. Athens,

National

Museum.

AntDenk 2,pi.52, Berlin 1908, afterwater

Archaeological

color

by

E. Gillieron.

Courtesy

FineArts

Library,

Harvard

College

Library

burg,

St.

State

1918.

6. New

Hermitage

Museum

York,

Metropolitan

Museum

of Art

45.11.1;

Paralipomena

318.

ARV2

442;

1032,

no.

Addenda2

55;

Beazley

THE

IMAGERY

OF

ABDUCTION

75

I mmmWKmmn??mmmmmammmmmmmmmm^?H
I
mmmWKmmn??mmmmmammmmmmmmmm^?H

7.Mack

2002,

p.

599,

n.

4.

8. Furtw?ngler

1886-1890.

Typo

logical

retain

or

iconographical

Furtw?ngler's

cation include Floren

studies

that

system

of

classifi

1977; LIMC

IV,

1988,

nes

Belson

pp.

285-330,

s.v. Gorgo,

S.-C.

Gorgo

(I. Krauskopf

1980

and

Dahlinger).

suggests

modifications

to

Furtw?ngler's

question

the

chronology

usefulness

of

but

his

does

not

larger

system.

that of her

transformation

attacker. As

"from

Rainer Mack

terror

to

beauty

has

need

recently

not

be

suggested,

taken

as

the Gorgons'

an

evacuation

of

holds

the

original'

the power

sense

of

the

image,"

since beauty,

no

less than monstrosity,

to fascinate.7 Nevertheless,

the logic underlying

the variety

evident

in

the

representations

creatures

remains

for

obscure?that

their horrible

logic

that

as the

has

is, we

appearance

are

at

a

loss

also

to explain why

appear

focusing

famous

on

It

should

as a bevy on what

of beauties.

come

is this

to be known

I attempt

"beautiful"

framed

entry

to uncover

type.

their

here,

ap

has

Previous

scholarship

the Gorgons

shifting

in the Ausf?hr

pearance

in evolutionary

terms. Adolf

Furtw?ngler's

liches Lexikon

der griechischen

und

r?mischen Mythologie,

a tripartite

gradually

typology

that

into Hellenistic

showed

monstrous

Archaic

set

and Roman

beauties,

which

Gorgons

the

course

relied

on

evolving

sub

for

sequent

scholarship,

Closer

which

has

accepted

this

account

typology,

from

he

that

almost

however,

without

shows

question.8

it

("mittlere"),

the three types?Archaic

ful

rare, Gorgons with ordinary human features appear inGreek

as the 7th

atThermon

examination

difficulties,

the neat

B.c. A

Perseus

of Furtw?ngler's

not

to be fraught with

("sch?ne")?to

century

shows

the

("archaische"),

chronological

least of which

middle

sequence

is the resistance

and beauti

of

imposed.

Though

art as early

of Apollo

concealed

fragmentary

carrying

metope

away

the Temple

is mostly

a head

76

KATHRYN

TOPPER

7 6 KATHRYN T O P P E R b y t h e kibisis m

by

the kibisis

masklike

m a s k l i k e

shows

eyes

Gorgon

(Fig.

3),9 but which

preserved

on

with

that

they

by

beard,

form

contrast,

forms

fangs,

creases

a stark contrast

metope

protruding

face.What

human,

to the grimacing,

(Fig.

1). The

latter

her

the

tongue,

is visible

and

of

and her

tranquil,

her from

source

gorgoneion

a nearby

and

in her

the Gorgon are so wide

in the kibisis,

is strikingly

not only because

half-closed

her glaring counterpart,

of the Gorgon's potency.10 Although much of her face remains concealed in Perseus's pouch, the treatment of her eyes suggests that the early paint

eyes are remarkable

but

they differentiate

also because

the eyes were

the primary

ers' conceptions

account

would

of

have

the Gorgons

us

imagine.

were

not

quite

so rigid

as Furtw?ngler's

In the Classical

period,

Furtw?ngler's

with

defying

easy

4,5).11

Both

by Athena

her. In both

and her

face. Only

on

hair

(Fig. 4). Using

transitional

various

the

types of appearances

phase,

situation

our

is even more

in the

ing peacefully

the harpe,

nose

buns

the painter

complex,

images,

for now Gorgons sometimes

clearly

(Figs.

flanked

coexist

attention to two mid-5th-century beU kraters by the Villa Giulia Painter, we

can

classification.

vases

Turning

see the difficulty

and

on

show Medusa

the Gorgon

neatly

krater,

sleep and armed with

has awide

as Perseus,

and Hermes

scenes,

is bound

cautiously

approaches

a protruding

tongue,

the

sides

given

of her

her

in two

small

has

we

the London

however,

terminology,

fangs

Furtw?ngler's

might

we

safely are to make

label

this figure

of her more

Madrid

(Fig.

5:c). Although

a "middle" Gorgon,

but

it

is less

clear what

human-looking

this Gorgon

counterpart

on

may

not

strike us

the krater

as beautiful,

in

she

is nevertheless

very

human

in appearance;

she has

no

fangs,

so only

lege Library

9. Athens,

National

Museum

13401.

Archaeological

10.

On

cially

Vernant

E

11.

493;

Fig.

ARV2

the Gorgons'

1991a,

4: London,

619,

no.

eyes,

1991b.

British

18.

Fig.

Madrid,

Museo

11010;^F2619,no.

Arqueol?gico

19.

see

espe

Museum

5:

Nacional

12. Richmond,

Virginia

Museum

of Fine Arts

62.1.1; ARV21683,

no.

4%bis; Paraltpomena

452.

THE

IMAGERY

OF

ABDUCTION

JJ

; Paraltpomena 4 5 2 . THE IMAGERY OF ABDUCTION J J Museum^MHHHHH^^^^^l^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^l^^^HlHHl^HHHHHHH?HHI^Hl h

Museum^MHHHHH^^^^^l^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^l^^^HlHHl^HHHHHHH?HHI^Hl

her wings

the Villa

descriptive

extent

that

suggest

that

she

is something

else. Applied

to refine

labels

his

a simple

to examples

seem

criteria

to lose

to

would

such

be

like

their

an

Giulia

Painter's

Gorgons,

even

ifwe

the

images

Furtw?ngler's

were

became

power?and

classifying

task, we

no

wiser

about why

a particular

Gorgon

looks

as she does.

Furtw?ngler's

system,

images

moreover,

of Gorgons

(Fig.

does

not

easily

accommodate

in the

same

but

the wide

The

also

contem

lack

is round

grimace.

variations

Villa

Giulia

porary

among

produced

period.

they

Painter's

now

with

Gorgons

qualities

in Richmond

thickly

may

not

seem

we

see

beautiful,

on

the overtly masklike

hydria

and oversized,

in the Gorgon 6).12 There

eyebrows

a roughly

face

Medusa's

painted

and an exaggerated

The

absence

of a visible

towhat

we

Gorgon

than

in these

far

that

neck

find

on

contributes

the Villa

Giulia

to the

Giulia

Painter's

impression

of a mask, Both

moreover,

above

again

the

differ

(Fig.

2),

pro

the

in contrast

Richmond

markedly

whose

from

face not

file,

rather

Gorgons

suggests

the

painters

deciding

help

any

how

Painter's Gorgons.

Gorgons,

pelike

and the Villa

is entirely

the Gorgon

only

we

saw on Polygnotos's

human,

its viewer

subject

options

chose

but

is shown

The

directly.

in three-quarter

diversity

among

confronting

had

four

from

a number

to depict

why

scenes, which

being

of

the Gorgons.

are all approximately to

impersonal

at

their

disposal

Furtw?ngler's

to represent

contemporary,

forces,

they were

does

as

they

little

did

to

in

evolutionary

when

typology

them

us understand

given

instance.

painters

KATHRYN TOPPER b
KATHRYN
TOPPER
b

Figure

5 (opposite and right). Perseus

approaching

with

fleeing

Medusa,

maidens,

and

Attic

old

man

red

figure

bell

Villa Giidia

krater,

ca.

Painter,

460-450

b.c.,

(a) obverse;

(b)

reverse; (c) detail of obverse. Museo

Arqueol?gico

Madrid,

Nacional

Archivo

11010.

Fotogr?fico,

l?gico Nacional

Photos

Museo

courtesy

Arqueo

Figure

Gorgon

hydria,

6. Perseus

Medusa,

ca.

beheading

Attic

the

red-figure

450-425

b.c.,

attributed

Painter.

Richmond,

to

the Nausikaa

Virginia Museum

of Fine Arts

62.1.1.

Margaret

Museum

Photo

courtesy

Glasgow

of Fine

Fund.

Arts

the Arthur

?

Virginia

and

13. Accepting

that

representations

of

the Gorgon

path,

locate

foUow

scholars

a

single

evolu

have

attempted

within

have

tionary

to

these

specific

elements

representations

that may

prompted

from

the Gorgon's

monster

to beautiful

transformation

woman;

e.g.,

Phinney

Vernant

1991b,

1971,

pp.

pp.

148-150.

450-451;

see,

THE

IMAGERY

OF

ABDUCTION

79

p p . 148-150. 450-451; see, THE IMAGERY OF ABDUCTION 7 9 pres t h a
p p . 148-150. 450-451; see, THE IMAGERY OF ABDUCTION 7 9 pres t h a

pres

that an essentially descriptive

typology constitutes an adequate explanatory tool.Within the system Furt

ent

The

problem

lies not

but

only

in the

in the empirical

assumption

challenges

the

images

to this

typology,

w?ngler

constructed,

the Gorgon becomes a single entity that experienced

a single

gradual

is

nothing

more

change

than

over

the

end

a period

result

of

of

centuries,

long,

a

and

the beautiful

type

and

largely

unexplained,

process of transformation.13 This account leaves no room for the possibility

that

we

are

observing

several

trends

rather

than

a

single

evolutionary

one,

or that context?specifically, discursive context?rather than chronology

determined

how

the Gorgon

should

look

in a given

situation.

8o

KATHRYN

TOPPER

For

Gorgon

all these

only

by

and

Gorgons

as well

reasons,

abandoning

I suggest

that we

can understand

typology?both

by

inquiring,

contexts

the beautiful

as a system how

Furtw?ngler's

of

they

classification

beautiful

occur.14 My

as an explanatory within

operate

focuses

on

examples;

I believe

tool?and

instead,

inwhich

the discursive

the Classical

I do

while

the

was

two

argument

as Attic

period

not wish

and draws

deny

on South

the differ

Italian

ences that developed between

concerned with what

to

traditions,

artistic

I am primarily

of

a trend

common

to both.15 Most

my

The

examples

that

story

are

scenes

found

can

furnish

in vase

painting,

how

does

each

not

of which

(unlike the iso to a larger narrative

lated gorgoneia

context

in architecture)

clues

about

clearly

an

belongs

image

exist

as well

is to be understood.16

outside

the

as verbal?and

of

specific

each

of Perseus

inwhich

and Medusa

instances

is it represented?visual

representation

if we

is constructed

according

are to understand

any particular

to a logic

that must

element

within

it. Just

be uncovered

aswe

cannot

understand

a

literary motif

without

an

awareness

of

the

conventions

of

the genre

to a significant

inwhich

it operates,

on

our

they

our

interpretation

to discern

of visual motifs depends

the generic

degree

inwhich

ability

conventions

the

same

of

the

images

appear. An

epic Cyclops

is hardly

creature

as a satyric Cyclops;

in the

same way,

I suggest, we

cannot

under

stand

the

images

of the beautiful Medusa

unless we

know whether

they are

meant

to glorify

Perseus,

to evoke

sympathy

for

the monster,

to provoke

laughter,

or to produce

a different

reaction

altogether.

 
 

Beautiful

Gorgons

occur

in a variety

of

images,

scenes,

the

tone

of which

is

not

always

possible

to discern.

The

after

all, do

not

announce

their genres

in the

same ways

that

contemporary

texts

do,

and

as modern

observers,

we

tend

to be more

skilled

in dealing

with

the

latter

form

of

evidence?we

generally

find

it easier,

that

is, to classify

a play

an

as a comedy

image.

of

of

or

adopted here Tzvetan Todorov's

than

a tragedy

to

recognize

the humor

definition

or pathos

of genre

I have

as a codification

discursive

expectations

properties,

about

how

that

is, elements

that

create

a particular

representation

for

is

a reader

or viewer

to

be

understood.17

Todorov

it

treats

is a property

genre

as primarily

of

discourse,

genre

a verbal

also

phenomenon,

but

to nonverbal

belongs

insofar

forms

as

of

representation,

its own

system

including

of genres,