7:00 AM

Caravaggio, Medusa, 1597 

Though most are familiar with the story of ill-fated Medusa, I must retell the story because even though her myth continues through verbal telling, as I read about her myth I must admit that there are details that no one has mentioned to me before, and if you only know Medusa through what you have heard then you might feel the same after reading this.

Medusa was one of Phorcy, a sea god, and Ceto, his sister-wife's, three daughters. Medusa was said to have luscious golden hair. She was also a priestess of Athena with a supposed life devoted to celibacy. After being enticed by Poseidon, she left her vows behind and married him. Medusa abandonment of her vows is the reason we have the Medusa we now infamously know and love. To punish her, Athena turned each and every wavy golden lock of hair that Poseidon so admired into a venomous snake, and her once gentle, affectionate eyes turned into "blood-shot, furious orbs, which excited fear and disgust in the mind of the on-looker." Discernibly Medusa was appalled and not very pleased with her new look, and it's said that in despair she fled from her home to Africa, where as she wandered restlessly a young snaked dropped from her head. This, according the to Ancient Greeks is why Africa became the hotbed for venomous reptiles. Medusa continued to turn everything she gazed upon into to stone until conclusively Perseus put her out of her misery by chopping her head off therefore killing her.

Something I have realized while looking at Caravaggio paintings is how well he is at showing emotion and motion through 2-D objects such as paintings. He is also really good at detail as well from the outside rim of this circular background to the very detailed snakes and splattered blood. Another thing that amazes me about Caravaggio paintings is how modern and clean they look. The emotion being displayed on Medusa's face is beyond amazing.

You Might Also Like