Medusa: Solving the Mystery of the Gorgon

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Medusa, the Gorgon, who turns those who gaze upon her to stone, is one of the most popular and enduring figures of Greek mythology. Long after many other figures from Greek myth have been forgotten, she continues to live in popular culture. In this fascinating study of the legend of Medusa, Stephen R. Wilk begins by refamiliarizing readers with the story through ancient authors and classical artwork, then looks at the interpretations that have been given of the meaning of the myth through the years. A new and original interpretation of the myth is offered, based upon astronomical phenomena. The use of the gorgoneion, the Face of the Gorgon, on shields and on roofing tiles is examined in light of parallels from around the world, and a unique interpretation of the reality behind the gorgoneion is suggested. Finally, the history of the Gorgon since tlassical times is explored, culminating in the modern use of Medusa as a symbol of Female Rage and Female Creativity.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"The author's twenty years of devoted and penetrating research has netted so engagingly seined a catch of fact and fancy that he is close to persuasive about [the origins of Medusa's] gaze....Wilk is open, judicious, and critically candid about the broad collage he has so inventively explored. Good to the last line of text, this rich book never even flirts with the sin of being boring."--Journal of the History of Astronomy

"As the author of this interesting new book demonstrates, the Gorgon was not only an unsually popular subject among Greek and Roman writers and artists, but she has also remained a favorite mythological character in modern times.... Wilk's in-depth study is a welcome addition to the scholarship about her, containing both extensive review of previous interpretative theories and adding quite a few insightful new ideas of his own."--The Classical Outlook

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195124316
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 3/28/2000
  • Pages: 288
  • Lexile: 1230L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Table of Contents

Part I The Mystery
1 The Nature of Myth 3
2 The Myth of Perseus and Medusa 17
3 The Gorgon in Art 31
4 Parallels from Around the World 55
5 Explanations 87
Part II The Solution
6 Mira and Algol 105
7 The Surrounding Sky 129
8 The Face on the Shield 145
9 Gorgons and Gargoyles 161
10 What the Gorgon Really Was 183
11 The Gorgon Today 193
12 Synthesis 225
Appendix 239
Notes 243
References 251
Index 263
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