Mirrors and Monsters
Greek mythology is famous for its hideous monsters, hybrid entities like Cerberus, the Hydra, the Chimaera, and the Sphinx. These creatures are not merely suitable foils for majestic gods and valorous heroes; the Greeks also believed that monsters held up a mirror to humans, revealing to us our own complexities and our multiple natures. Nor were Greek monsters always too terrible to behold. In fact, they were a favourite subject of ancient art, finding room on some of the most unlikely objects: party bowls, perfume bottles, and cosmetic mirrors. This talk will trace the development of the snaky-haired Medusa in particular, how her artistic and literary representation changed from that of a hideous Gorgon to a sympathetic and beautiful (if still monstrous) female.
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