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HOME : Classical Antiquities : Archive : Fragment of a Roman Relief Featuring the Head of Medusa on a Clipeus
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Fragment of a Roman Relief Featuring the Head of Medusa on a Clipeus - X.0046
Origin: Mediterranean
Circa: 2 nd Century AD to 3 rd Century AD
Dimensions: 21.25" (54.0cm) high
Collection: Classical
Medium: Marble

Additional Information: Sold

Location: Great Britain
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This marble relief fragment, featuring the head of Medusa set on a clipeus (a round shield), was probably once originally part of a large sarcophagus. However, it is just as plausible that it may have served as an architectural decoration in a public building. This is a typical rendering of the head of the ferocious gorgon, Medusa. She has an oval face, deeply set eyes that stare upward, and an enigmatic smile. Her voluminous hair is arranged in large curls from which two snakes emerge, and is decorated with wings crowning her head. Look into her eyes, but be cautious, for her glance has the power to turn mortals into stone. She gazes out at us with piercing eyes, squinting slightly as if she is straining to peer out from the stone. Medusa was beheaded by the valiant hero Perseus who managed to avert his eyes from her captive stare by peering at her image reflected on the shield given to him by Minerva. Could this marble sculpture depict this scene? Here, Medusa’s head is shown on a shield. But is this her head or merely a reflection? Has Perseus already slain this mythological beast, or is he just about to? Ironically, it is Medusa whose image is now permanently encased in stone, as if the victim of her own treachery. Like the eyes of Medusa, this marble relief draws the viewer’s attention and mesmerizes us with its history and its beauty. - (X.0046)


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