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"Perseus, the Maiden Medusa, and the Imagery of Abduction" 

Red-figure pelike showing Perseus turning away as he reaches out to behead a sleeping Medusa; Athena stands at left.
Perseus beheading Medusa, Attic red figure pelike, ca. 450–440 BCE, Polygnotos. New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art 45.11.1. (Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art/Public Domain)
Kathryn Topper. "Perseus, the Maiden Medusa, and the Imagery of Abduction," Hesperia 76.1 (2007) 73-105

Focusing on Classical red-figure vases, the author argues that the appearance of the beautiful Medusa, which has been explained previously as an evolutionary development from the monstrous Archaic type, is determined by discursive context rather than by chronology. Painters used the beautiful Gorgon to convey certain messages about Perseus’s victory, though it is not always clear whether she is meant to evoke humor or pathos. The author further shows that Medusa’s death was figured as a perversion of the erotic abductions common to many Greek myths, and points out the beautiful Gorgon’s affinities with abducted maidens such as Persephone, Thetis, and Helen.

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