Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 14, 1903.djvu/234

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A SOLUTION OF THE GORGON MYTH.

(Read before the Folk-Lore Society at their Meeting of December 10th, 1902).

BY F. T. ELWORTHY, F.S.A.

Is it possible that anything can be said upon this old-world subject, that has not been already considered and well thrashed out over and over again? Such will doubtless be the first thought of any cultivated man upon reading the title of this paper, and it is with much diffidence that I venture to attempt to advance anything as new, before so critical and learned an audience as the members of this Society. In justice to myself, and to disarm the charge of priggish presumption, I may say that I mentioned to more than one of our members, and especially to Mr. Hartland, who has made the Legend of Perseus his peculiar study, the main thesis I have to lay before you. Had it not been that he and others pronounced it to be quite a novel idea, I should not have been bold enough to suppose that I could have anything fresh to communicate.

Respecting the story of Perseus as told by ancient authors, I shall not pretend to interpret the many versions of his famous exploit in the long list of classic and other writers who have narrated or referred to it. It is, however, a matter of experience that of all the stories and myths of antiquity, that of the Gorgon and her fateful glance is one of the most frequently depicted, if not the most common, of all the subjects of ancient art and traditional folklore.

It has been held, and in my judgment it has been demonstrated, by Dr. Haddon[1] and Mr. Balfour,[2] that all

  1. Evolution in Art, by A. C. Haddon, 1895 (Walter Scott).
  2. Evolution of Decorative Art, by H. Balfour, 1893 (Rivingtons).