Greek Mythology and modern politics


The Gorgons are traditionally monsters from Greek mythology. They were three sisters: Steno, Euriale and Medusa, their wings were made in gold, the hands had bronze claws, wild boar fangs and snakes decorated their heads instead of hair. If you were looking at them in their eyes, you would be immediately petrified. The most famous of the three sisters has always been Medusa, the only mortal of the three. Persephone had decided that Medusa needed to be the boss of the three and dedicated her to the custody of hell. In the Greek mythology, the role of the Gorgons was to represent the different perversions: Euriale was the sexual perversion, Steno the moral, Medusa the intellectual.

The story of the Gorgons tells about Perseus, needing to deliver the head of Medusa to Polydectes, the lord of the Serifos Island, first went to visit the Graie (sisters of the Gorgons) in order to know the way to reach the Nymphs. The Graie gave him the winged sandals and the famous helmet making him invisible, Athena added a mirror, Ermes the pruning knife.

Perseus flew to the Gorgons and reached them when they were sleeping, he cut the head of Medusa by looking at her through the divine mirror and put it immediately in the bag he had received from the Graie. From the beheaded body of Medusa, together with the blood, Pegasus (the winged horse) and Crisaore (father of Gerione) came out.

Perseus gave the head of Medusa to Athena, who placed it at the center of her shield to scare the enemies.

One very well know representation of the story is the one given by Benvenuto Cellini in the middle of 1500s, still visible today in Piazza della Signoria in Florence. The statue had been commissioned by Cosimo I right after his ascension to power. The intention of the duke was to firmly communicate a “cut” with the past Republican experiences represented by Medusa. From the body of Medusa we see snakes coming out, clearly alluding to proverbial city discords that were ruining the democracy of the place.

We are now faced with a contemporary piece of art that has just been shown to the public (the link below allows you to see it), it still misses a detailed explanation about the choice of this myth and its numerous meanings. A head needed to be cut in the will of the artist, the preferred historical reference is evidently Medusa, but Medusa is also the symbol of the intellectual perversion: does it fit? Fast forwarding, the duke Cosimo Ist commissioned the sculpture to Benvenuto Cellini to pass the political message described above, who commissioned the image that just appeared? What is the political message we are invited to read in it?

We are informed by the author that there was no intention to go back so many years in dealing with Mr Trump, the past under exam was only a few months ago and reference was only to his infamous “wherever”, related to the bleeding of a journalist (this the origin of his face color)


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