Fictitious and Symbolic Creatures in Art

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Fictitious and Symbolic Creatures in Art

By John Vinycomb

Chimerical Creatures of the Dragon and Serpent kind - The Gorgon

Reference has already been made to the gorgon in a quotation from Milton. The name now denotes anything unusually hideous. In classic story there were three gorgons, with serpents on their heads instead of hair. Medusa was the chief of the three, and the only one that was mortal. So hideous was her face that whoever set eyes on it was instantly turned to stone. She was slain by Perseus, and her head placed upon the shield of Minerva (termed the Ægis of Minerva). Homer, in the "Odyssey," Book xi. thus alludes to the dread creature:

"Lest Gorgon rising from the infernal lakes
 With horrors armed, and curls of hissing snakes,
 Should fix me stiffened at the monstrous sight,
 A stony image in eternal night."
[paragraph continues]And Shakespeare, in Macbeth, Act ii. sc. 3, uses the name to picture, in a word, the horrible discovery of the murdered Duncan:

"Approach the chamber, and destroy your sight
 With a new gorgon."

 

 

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