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Medusa, Gorgoneion & Perseus on Ancient Coins
Medusa, one of the Gorgons, was beheaded by Perseus. Medusa alone was mortal among the Gorgons, which made it possible for Perseus to come after her head. In order to kill her, he beheld the image of Medusa†on a brazen shield, so that he would not be turned into a stone for looking at her, and, his hand guided by Athena, he beheaded her. When her head was cut off, there sprang from her trunk Pegasus and Chrysaor. When Medusa as beheaded, the other GORGONS woke up and pursued Perseus†1, but they could not see him because he was wearing the helmet of Hades. According to late classical poets, Medousa was once a beautiful woman who was transformed into a monster by Athena as punishment for lying with Poseidon in her shrine. Earlier Greek writers and artists, however, simply portray her as a monster born into a large family of monsters. The three Gorgones were depicted in ancient Greek vase painting and sculpture as winged women with broad, round heads, serpentine locks of hair, large staring eyes, wide mouths, lolling tongues, the tusks of swine, flared nostrils, and sometimes short, coarse beards. Medousa was humanized in late classical art with the face of a beautiful woman. In mosaic art her round face was wreathed with coiling snakes and adorned with a pair of small wings on the brow.