Perseus and the Gorgons (page 305 with art)

Chapter 10: Perseus and Bellerophontes, Part 1

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Paris, Louvre E874: Attic black-figure dinos with Gorgons and Perseus


Wikimedia Commons detail of pursuing Gorgon and Perseus

Wikimedia Commons detail of Gorgons (with Medusa collapsing on left)

Alchetron image of dinos and stand

Detail from S.D. Hines Books of Grogons, Athena and Hermes

Perseus Art & Archaeology Artifact Browser


Beazley Archive Pottery Database

Classical Art Research Centre

Athens, National Museum 13401: painted metope from Thermon with Perseus fleeing


Deutsches Archäologisches Institut. Antike Denkmäler, vol. 2 (1908), pl. 51.1

Digital LIMC

Bryn Mawr archaeology image (upper metope)

Berlin, Pergamonmuseum F 1682 (lost): Attic black-figure spouted krater with Perseus and Athena

A. Furtwängler, “Schüssel von Aegina,” Archäologische Zeitung 39 (1882), pl. 9 opp. cols. 199-200.

Beazley Archive Pottery Database

Digital LIMC

Samos, Vathy Museum E 1: ivory relief with Perseus and Medousa


Illustration p. 155 from Konstantinos Tsakos and Maria Viglaki-Sofianou, Samos: The Archaeological Museums (2012)

Olympia, Archaeological Museum B975: bronze shield-band relief with Perseus and Medousa

E. Kunze, Archaische Schildbänder, Olympische Forschungen 2 (1950), pl. 57, XIXd

Digital LIMC

London, British Museum B155: Chalkidian black-figure amphora with Perseus and Nymphai


British Museum image and description


Drawing showing inscriptions, from Daremberg and Saglio, Dicionnaire des antiquités grecques et romaines (1896 ff.), vol. 4.1, p. 399

Classical Art Research Centre

Paus 3.17.3Pausanias, Description of Greece (on the bronze temple of Athena in Sparta):

On the bronze are wrought in relief many of the labours of Heracles… There are also represented nymphs bestowing upon Perseus, who is starting on his enterprise against Medusa in Libya, a cap and the shoes by which he was to be carried through the air.   Greek Text

Pherekydes of Athens 3F11 FGrHDie Fragmente der griechischen Historiker 1, pp. 61-62, ed. F. Jacoby, 2d ed. Leiden 1957.

And Perseus went away sorrowfully, mourning the disaster, to the end of the island. But Hermes, seen by him and bringing the question to him, learns the reason for the lament. And he leads him first, telling him to cheer up, to the Graiai, daughters of Phorkos, Pemphredo and Enyo and Deino, with Athena preceding them, and he steals away their eye and their tooth as they hand them to each other. And they, noticing, cry out and supplicate him to give back the eye and the tooth, because the three of them made use of one by taking turns. And Perseus says he has it and he will give it back if they direct him to the nymphs who have the cap of Aides and the winged sandals and the pouch. And they tell him, and Perseus gives back what he took. And he goes away to the nymphs with Hermes, and after asking and getting them he ties on the winged sandals and hangs the pouch on his shoulders and sets the cap of Aides over his head. Then, flying, he goes to the ocean and the Gorgons, with Hermes and Athena following with him. And he finds them sleeping. And the gods with him explain to him how he must cut off the head while turned away, and they show him Medousa, who alone was mortal of the Gorgons. And he gets near and cuts it off, and puts it into the pouch and flees. But they notice and chase him and don’t see him.  (Transl. Silvio Curtis).  Greek Text

Katast 22 – Pseudo-Eratosthenes, Katasterismoi – Mythographi Graeci 3.1, pp. 25-27, ed. A. Olivieri. Leipzig 1897.


Concerning this man, it is told that he was placed among the stars because of his glorious reputation; for Zeus had intercourse with Danae in the form of gold, and begat him; he was sent by Polydectes to the Gorgons, and he took from Hermes both helmet and sandals, in which he made his journey through the air; it seems that he also took from Hephaistos a curved blade made of adamant; the Gorgons, as Aischylos the tragic poet tells in the Phorkides, had the Graiai as lookouts; they had one eye and this they handed round to one another as each went on guard;  Perseus watched for it at the hand-over, and, having gained possession of it, hurled it into the Tritonian marsh, and thus, coming upon the Gorgons in their deep sleep, he took away Medusa’s head, which Athena then wore on her breast; but for Perseus she made a position in the stars, and this is why he is seen holding the Gorgon’s head.  (Transl. Mary Emerson).  Greek Text

Aischylos, Phorkides fr 262 iv, v, – Tragicorum Graecorum Fragmenta 3, p. 364, ed. S. L. Radt. Göttingen 1985.

It seems that [Perseus] also took the curved blade made of adamant from Hephaistos. As the tragic poet Aischylos says in his Phorkides, the Gorgons had the Graiai as their lookouts. But they only had one eye between them and they handed it round to one another as each went on guard.  Perseus, having watched carefully, stole it as it was handed over and threw it into the Tritonian marsh.  Thus, coming upon the Gorgons who were fast asleep, he took Medusa’s head.  (Transl. Mary Emerson)

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Literary sources edited by Silvio Curtis, Teaching assistant, Department of Classics, Univ. of Georgia, spring 2014.

Edited by Frances Van Keuren, Prof. Emerita, Lamar Dodd School of Art, Univ. of Georgia, October 2017 and April 2019.

Literary sources updated by Elena Bianchelli, Retired Senior Lecturer of Classical Languages and Culture, Univ. of Georgia, May 2023.

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