Folk-Lore/Volume 16/A Solution of the Gorgon Myth

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A Solution of the Gorgon Myth.

(Vol. xiv., 1903, p. 212 sq.)

I have recently had an opportunity of making a sketch of the fresco from Pompeii at the Naples Museum numbered 9688, and mentioned on p. 235 of the article above referred to. From the print herewith it will be seen that the description given in the text is fully borne out, and, as I think, it conclusively establishes my solution of the myth. Upon the same fresco, alongside the Perseo-lobster, is a sea cow with a long fish tail, of a greenish colour, completing the picture. The remarkable feature of the whole is that the lobster is rather larger than the cow swimming by its side.

Naples Museum, 9688.

Quite recently the papers have recorded the capture of an enormous lobster, so that there is no reason to reject the Pompeian fancy as anything more than poetic or artistic license.

I am also able to complete my illustrations by a sketch of the group in the Palermo Museum from the Temple of Selinunte (see p. 232). This is probably the most ancient representation in existence of the exploit of Perseus. It is interesting to compare the Medusa in this relief, with that from six De Gorgone on p. 231—where the peculiarly shaped leg-scrolls of the Gorgon (Fig. 20) are nearly identical with those of the Perseus in the sketch herewith.

Palermo Museum.

At the Etruscan Museum at Florence is a terra-cotta having the face of a split-tongued Medusa of the type of Fig. 2, but instead of the tentacles shown on Figs. 2 and 3, there is mounted on the head as a part of it, an Acroterion almost identical with Fig. 17. Another specimen of the same kind is to be seen among the terra-cottas at the Louvre; indeed, much more evidence might be produced if it were necessary to further support that already provided.

The remarks on the Manaia (pp. 240-1) should lead to the examination of the Maori Feather-box illustrated in ‘Man,’ 1904, No. 111. The gaping mouth and the scrolls are repeated on all sides, but on the bottom is the same nondescript pair of jaws, attacking the head, as depicted on Figs. 26, 27. Much also has of late been written about Rapanui or Easter Island, but nothing specially to throw light on my suggestion. I would, however, ask for a careful and candid comparison of Fig. 27 with the representation here given of Perseus and Medusa from Selinunte.