Perseus pursued by Gorgons by "The Gorgon Painter" 580 BC

The handsome bowl atop this fancy stand in the Louvre (F874) is a dinos, a punch bowl that was filled with wine mixed with water and set out to serve the guests at a banquet or dinner party and into which they could dip their wine cups. We wonder, however, whether this one was ever put to such a use, its stand being so elaborate as to suggest it was created mainly as an ostentatious showpiece. It was made in Athens about 580 BC and painted by a painter who didn't sign it but is known today as "The Gorgon Painter," after this famous vase.

Most of the vase and its stand are painted in a series of bands or "friezes" with abstract geometric designs or rows of animals in the older "Geometric" and "Corintian" styles. Only the top band or frieze is given over to story-telling involving mythic heroes and their gods. The hero here is Perseus, who, backed by Athena and Hermes, set out to behead the mortal Gorgon Medusa and bring her head back to Athena. On the vase we see Hermes and Athena standing by to protect Perseus right after he beheaded Medusa and now flees from her two immortal sister Gorgons.

Hermes and Athena abet the murder of Medusa, who falls headless, as her sister Gorgons chase after Perseus. The Louvre notes that "In place of her severed head, the painter has drawn a series of hatched strokes." I think he meant them as spurting streams of blood. Note, below the geometric palm frieze in the band below them, in the same "kneeling/running" pose as the three Gorgons, the Mistress of the Beasts between a lion and a lioness.

Medusa's two sister Gorgons chasing Perseus. Like Medusa, all three figures here wear winged ankle-boots, signs of speed as well as flight, and all four of them are drawn in the "kneeling-running" pose that prevailed in the Archaic period. Also, unlike Perseus, all three Gorgons have Archaic wings curved like scythes, and they are twisted from the waist up to face and frighten the viewer and ward off evils or whatever. 

Reposted from Ancient Worlds