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Ancient pain

Gili Orr

Haarlem, Netherlands

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Artist's Description

“Ancient pain” was featured in the groups European Everyday Life and THE SISTERHOOD .

This photo of the stone-carved Medusa head was taken in March 2005 in Didyma, Turkey, with a Canon PowerShot S20 camera. This was a 3mp camera, which limits the size of the image, of course (it was slightly cropped into a square).

While Medusa is regarded as a scary, monstrous female figure, all I can see in the facial expression of this depiction of her is deep pain… maybe due to the rape which changed her life forever, turning her into her monstrous self.

Following is information over both Didyma and Medusa, found in Wikipedia.

Didyma (Greek: Δίδυμα) was an ancient Ionian sanctuary, the modern Didim, Turkey, containing a temple and oracle of Apollo, the Didymaion.

Didyma was the largest and most significant sanctuary on the territory of the great classical city Miletus. To approach it, visitors would follow the Sacred Way to Didyma, about 17km long. Along the way, were ritual waystations, and statues of members of the Branchidae family, male and female, as well as animal figures. Some of these statues, dating to the 6th century BC are now in the British Museum, taken by Charles Newton in the 19th century.

In Greek mythology, Medusa (Greek: Μέδουσα (Médousa), “guardian, protectress”) was a monstrous chthonic female character; gazing upon her would turn onlookers to stone. She was beheaded by the hero Perseus, who thereafter used her head as a weapon until giving it to the goddess Athena to place on her shield. In classical antiquity and today, the image of the head of Medusa finds expression in the evil-averting device known as the Gorgoneion. She also has two gorgon sisters.

While ancient Greek vase-painters and relief carvers imagined Medusa and her sisters as beings born of monstrous form, sculptors and vase-painters of the fifth century began to envisage her as a being both beautiful as well as terrifying. In an ode written in 490 BC Pindar already speaks of “fair-cheeked Medusa”. In a late version of the Medusa myth, related by the Roman poet Ovid (Metamorphoses 4.770), Medusa was originally a beautiful maiden, “the jealous aspiration of many suitors,” priestess in Athena’s temple, but when she was raped by the “Lord of the Sea” Poseidon in Athena’s temple, the enraged goddess transformed her beautiful hair to serpents and she made her face so terrible to behold that the mere sight of it would turn a man to stone. In Ovid’s telling, Perseus describes Medusa’s punishment by Athena as just and well-deserved.

In the majority of the versions of the story, while Medusa was pregnant by Poseidon, she was beheaded in her sleep by the hero Perseus, who was sent to fetch her head by King Polydectes of Seriphus. 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 instead of directly at her to prevent being turned into stone. When the hero severed Medusa’s head, from her neck two offspring sprang forth: the winged horse Pegasus and the giant Chrysaor who later became the hero wielding the golden sword.

Medusa – Wikipedia

Artwork Comments

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