Medusa’s Blood: On the Ovidian Assertion of Fame in Cellini’s Perseus

Cellini’s head of Perseus and Medusa depicts the mythical king of Mycenae, the son of Jupiter and Danae, triumphant after beheading Gorgon Medusa. Perseus stood on Medusa’s writhing body, his weight resting on his right leg, his left slightly bent at the knee.

Medusa is twisted into an inhuman round object, her left hand gripping her right angle. The Gorgon’s body reads like a bunch of inanimate limbs – the body of the duality separated from its vital hostility.

In Ovidia’s material, the blood of Medusa shed by the blade of Perseus gave birth to Pegasus, which in turn gave birth to Hippocrine, the poetic muse of the muse on Mount Helicon inspiration. Pegasus itself can be interpreted as an allegory of glory, Cellini conjures an outline through the blood of Gorgons.

Thus, one can see Cellini’s apparent focus on establishing himself in a range of artistic greatness, which profoundly influenced Perseus’ Medusa heads, images, and representations.

Furthermore, the ideologies that influenced the notion of the immortal power of artistic fame, from Ovid to Petrarch to Cellini’s apparent pursuit of apotheosis, can be traced through the virtuosity of his creativity.


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