Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 14, 1903.djvu/260

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A Solution of the Gorgon Myth.

setting forth of my contention respecting the Octopus, I have come upon some unexpected evidence in the special region of the Gorgon myth, that in my judgment conclusively proves my hypothesis—that the original actors on which the myth is founded were an octopus and a lobster or crayfish, both of these creatures being transformed into beings more or less human. In the ancient sculpture from Selinunte, at Palermo, both Perseus and Medusa are depicted equally in human form. Such transformations are common in romance and folktales, so that there is no improbability to be accounted for. Indeed, there is a story almost analogous among our own Arthurian Legends. In the romance of Le Beaus Desconus, p. 66[1], the hero becomes petrified at

Fig. 23.

the sight of a worm with a woman's face, and thereby being compelled to submit to her embrace, the worm at once becomes disenchanted and retransformed into her woman's shape. There are variants of this story wherein the hero usually kisses the monster, not she him. Usually also she is described as haunting a rocky coast. This romance or folk-myth is quite on all-fours with that of Perseus and the Gordon. There is a Maori legend on the other hand of a woman being tempted by the Manaia.[2] There is also a legend of a bird in Brazil which petrified its beholders. To this I refer later.

But pursuing my method of proof by ocular demonstration rather than argument, I produce (Fig. 23) a drawing

  1. D. Nutt, 1902.
  2. Edge Partington, Anthrop. Journal, 1900, 40.