A fine ancient Roman bronze appliqué of Medusa’s head. The Gorgon’s face is expressive, with plump cheeks, frowning eyebrows and parted lips. Two wings rise from the curls on top of her head, and her snake hair is rendered through a band wrapped around her chin and marked with slanted grooves. The back is hollow and unmodelled. Mounted on a modern stand.
Height with stand: 9.4 cm
Date: Circa 1st - 2nd Century AD Condition: Good condition. Some small chips and earthly encrustation to surface. Modern mount.
Bronze objects in the ancient Roman world were often made with the hollow cast technique, of which this appliqué is an example. It is a method by which bronze objects were created with a hollow back or centre, thereby reducing the amount of bronze required.
According to Greek mythology, Medusa was one of three sisters in the Gorgon family. Medusa was the only mortal of the sisters and her death is famous in mythology. She was beheaded by the hero Perseus, and her children, Chrysaor and Pegasus sprang from her head. In some myths, Medusa was a monster from birth like her sisters. They had snakes for hair and wielded the ability to turn onlookers into stone. In other versions of the myth, Medusa was the only Gorgon to have snake-hair because she was cursed by Athena after she was raped in Athena’s temple by Poseidon (the sea god). Medusa was a popular talismanic symbol to protect people from evils. She was considered a symbol of strength – her name comes from the Greek verb “μέδω” “to guard or protect”. Her image was used frequently on military paraphernalia, such as shields and breastplates.
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