Art Spotlight: Marqueste's Perseus and Medusa

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.