Perseus Beheading Medusa
Loggia dei Lanzi, Florence
18 feet high
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(bnvn´t chl-l´n) Benvenuto
Cellini (1500–1571) was an Italian sculptor, metalsmith, and author.
"Medusa" was a Gorgon and originally
a beautiful maiden, but she desecrated the goddess Athena's temple by sleeping
there with Poseidon. Outraged, Athena
turned Medusa's hair into living snakes and any man who looked upon her
face would be turned into stone.
From: The Columbia Encyclopedia:
(pûr´ss, –ss), Perseus
in Greek mythology, was the son of Zeus and Danaë. His grandfather,
Acrisius, had been warned by an oracle that his grandson would kill him
and therefore he put Perseus (his grandson) and his mother in a chest and
threw it into the sea. It drifted to Seriphus, where King Polydectes befriended
the mother and child. After a time Polydectes fell in love with Danaë
(the mother) but was embarrassed by the presence of her now full-grown
son. He sent Perseus to fetch the head of the Gorgon Medusa, thinking that
Perseus would die in the attempt.
The gods, however, loved Perseus.
Hermes gave him a curved sword and winged sandals, and Athena (who had
her own run-ins with Medusa earlier) gave him a mirrorlike shield, and
Hades a helmet that made Perseus invisible. Thus armed, Perseus slew Medusa.
While fleeing the other Gorgons (Medusa’s sisters) Perseus asked Atlas
for help. Atlas refused, and Perseus, by means of the Medusa head, promptly
turned him into a mountain of stone.
On his way home Perseus rescued Andromeda
from a sea monster and married her. When he arrived in Seriphus, he killed
Polydectes (that wicked guy that was making the moves on his
mother) and his followers. He then gave
the Medusa head to Athena.
He went with his mother and his wife to Argos. There, while competing in
a discus contest, Perseus accidentally killed his grandfather. Thus the
prophecy was fulfilled.
Perseus was the father of Electryon,
who was the grandfather of Hercules.