Art Spotlight: Marqueste's Perseus and Medusa


Marqueste 's 'Perseus slaying Medusa' Prisma/UIG via Getty Images

As I mention in a recent Monster of the Week post, I've always had a hard time cheering for the Greek hero Perseus. Yes, we all love Harry Hamlin in "Clash of the Titans," but he manages to kill off one of mythology's richest monsters: the gorgon Medusa.

It's especially troubling when we look at artist depictions such as the above sculpture by Laurent-Honore Marqueste (1848-1920), which positively reeks of misogynistic violence. I'm supposed to root for this guy? At any rate, Marqueste's other famous work of mythological-themed sculpture, "Nessus" displays the same sensibilities in its deception of a male centaur abducting a nymph.

But perhaps this is all in keeping with the misogynistic violence inherent in the original myths. In Ovid's telling, Medusa's monstrous features are due to a curse placed on her by the goddess Athena. Her crime? Being raped by the sea God Poseidon in Athena's temple. Ugh.


About the Author: Robert Lamb spent his childhood reading books and staring into the woods — first in Newfoundland, Canada and then in rural Tennessee. There was also a long stretch in which he was terrified of alien abduction. He earned a degree in creative writing. He taught high school and then attended journalism school. He wrote for the smallest of small-town newspapers before finally becoming a full-time science writer and podcaster. He’s currently a senior writer at HowStuffWorks and has co-hosted the science podcast Stuff to Blow Your Mind since its inception in 2010. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling with his wife Bonnie, discussing dinosaurs with his son Bastian and crafting the occasional work of fiction.