Medusa meme

13920712_535962749945255_397948377744601819_n

Over on facebook in a private group is this meme being shared relating to Medusa and her apparent African origins. The meme is extremely questionable, especially considering it is completely lacking sources and any reference to where the info is coming from. However it has likewise caused protest amongst some Hellenic Polytheists who appear to be misinformed about the cultural exchange between the Greeks and nations south of the Aegean.  Below is my response, due to facebooks nature I couldn’t include links or images which I have done here and merits a proper blog post:


This meme is very misleading and questionable but there are some interesting notes in this regard. The iconography of the Gorgon is extremely old, like pre-historic old, some historians suspect it was the first depiction of the face. (Marija Gimbutas) The oldest depictions are actually questionable in terms of sex, with the gorgon having both male and female features. They also share similar characteristics with The Master of Beasts iconography found in the Minoan culture. Universally Gorgons are apotropaic, warding off evil which can be connected to early shamanistic concepts. The mask-like quality of the gorgon also hints at other apotropaic deities like Dionysos. (Who likewise shares connections with the Master of Beasts, intersex nature and shamanic ties).

Part of the Aegina treasure. This golden pendant is called "Master of Animals". It is interpreted as showing an Cretan god in a field of lotus flowers. In each hand he holds a goose, while the background is composed of two unidentified objects that are considered to be either connected to "cult horns", the sacred horns of bulls, or maybe composite bows. British Museum Catalogue Jewellery #762.  (wikipedia)
Part of the Aegina treasure. This golden pendant is called “Master of Animals”. It is interpreted as showing an Cretan god in a field of lotus flowers. In each hand he holds a goose, while the background is composed of two unidentified objects that are considered to be either connected to “cult horns”, the sacred horns of bulls, or maybe composite bows. British Museum Catalogue Jewellery #762. (wikipedia)
Gorgon_Kameiros_BM_GR1860.4-4.2
Winged goddess with a Gorgon’s head, orientalizing plate, c. 600 BC, from Kameiros, Rhodes (Wikipedia)
black_d_vector
digital tracing of a Greek pot, illustrating Dionysos tearing a dear apart.
EyeDIonysos
A painting of Dionysos directly inspired from “Greek eye cups

Blacks were present early in Greece, some were slaves, but also some were free, meaning that they were not regarded as a specific ‘slave race’. (See slavery in ancient Greece). Blacks likewise did influence ancient Greek religion, a Dionysian hero -claimed to have introduced the Dionysian cult to Greece by Herodotus- is Melampus, referenced as being a black African that presented a Hellenic variant of Egyptian religion. We also have Aesop establishing tales that are regarded as Hellenic but share a cultural connection with his African origins. So yes, Greeks were influenced by Africa in some sense.

Blacks were depicted in Greek art too, in some instances they are illustrated with satyr like features or examples of satyrs, relating to Dionysos. Also there are curious pottery from Thebes celebrating their variant of the Samothracian mysteries. The meaning of these pots are contestable, but modern research concludes that they may have been used for apotropaic purposes. Therefore illustrating a possible link between blacks and gorgon imagery.

Rhyton_African_Cdm_Paris_1238
An example of Africans in Greek pottery with apotropaic features.
IOW-Kabeirion.Judgment-of-Paris.Overall-view.2.7mb
Thebean cup featuring the Greek gods Hera, Aphrodite, Hermes (Paris?) as Africans. The fact that Hera is looking at the viewer suggests an apotrpaic element.

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s