Friday, August 03, 2007

Medusa in Gravlev

From ancient times the Medusa was immortalized in numerous works af art, but this new woodcut Medusa on a peaceful village road in Gravlev in Himmerland, staring up to Gravlev Church upon the hill - this was a rather surprising sight. She is monstrous big - and she must be frightening in the dark of the night for people who don't know she's there. I hope they are not being turned into stone!

In Greek mythology Medusa was a monstrous female character, who could turn onlookers to stone. Secondarily she was tripled into three sisters - the Gorgons. '.............sisters three, the Gorgons, winged with snakes for hair - hated of mortal man.'
In the fifth century artists began to envisage Medusa as being beautiful as well as terrifying. In a late version related to the Roman poet Ovid, Medusa was originally a beautiful nymph, but when she was raped by Poseidon in Athena's temple, the goddess transformed her beautiful hair to serpents and made her face so terrible to behold that the mere sight would turn a man into stone.

While Medusa was pregnant by Poseidon, she was beheaded in her sleep by the hero Perseus. With help from Athena and Hermes who supplied him with winged sandals, Hades' cap of invisibility, a sword and a mirrored shield he accomplished his quest. The hero slew Medusa by looking at her reflection in the mirror. When he severed Medusa's head from her neck, two offspring sprang forth: the winged horse Pegasus and the giant Chrysaor.

The corals of the Red Sea were said to have been formed of Medusa's blood spilled onto seaweed, when Perseus laid down the petrifying head beside the shore, and the poisonous vipers of Sahara were said to have grown from spilt drops of her blood.

Perseus then flew to his mother's island where she was about to be forced into marriage with the king. He cried out: 'Mother, shield your eyes!' - and everyone but his mother was turned into stone by the gaze of Medusa's head. Then he gave the Gorgon's head to Athena, who placed it on her shield, the Aegis. Some say the goddess gave Medusa's magical blood to the physician Asclepius, some of which was a deadly poison and the other had the power to raise the dead.

Greek drama when it's best!

The Staff of Aesculapius with the 'Aesculap snake ' is the wellknown symbol for physicians.

There were findings and observations of the Aesculap snake/Æskulapsnog in Jutland, Zealand and Falster in the 1800s. It was latest seen in Denmark in 1910. And supposedly it has disappeared. But it would be a sensation if someone discovered it somewhere.................

photo of 'Medusa in Gravlev' July 2007: grethe bachmann

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