Medusa and the Power of Sight and Gaze

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G.L. Corinto


The myth narrative of Perseus and Medusa can help us to acknowledge the role of sight in perception of space and time, a proper matter of geography. In the story, the sight plays a fundamental role. In killing Medusa, Perseus avoids directly looking at the face of the monster. Sight is a noble sense. It allows the constitution of the reality of the world in human mind. Using the eyes humans constitute the world, any single element, and the whole knowledge. The human eye has the power to see, a predominantly passive act, but also to look, to watch actively towards something or someone with greater intensity. A spiral, a single eye drawn at the center of a shield, the face of the medusa, all can attract the enemy’s eye. They divert attention, and the holder of the defensive armament can hit and repel the enemy. The repeated practice confirmed this repelling power. Greeks named apotropaic the power of pushing back any menacing gaze and increasing the distance-space from feared things. Gorgon-Medusa frightens even Athena, the bright-eyed Goddess of Reason, and prudent decisions. She, the snake-haired monster, reminds mortals that even if they take their eyes off reality, sooner or later, they will all have to look inside their souls before death. Athena’s reason is helpful but does not free humans from the limits imposed by the Olympian Gods.

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How to Cite
Corinto, G. (2021). Medusa and the Power of Sight and Gaze. Human Evolution , 36(3-4), 221-239.
Author Biography

G.L. Corinto, University of Macerata

Corinto G.L.
Department of Education, Cultural Heritage and Tourism,
University of Macerata, 
Piazzale L. Bertelli 1,
62100, Macerata, Italy