From the times of the ancient Greeks to the Romans, they had the Gorgon also known as Gorgoneion or when placed on shield or breast plate an aegis. The story behind the gorgoneion is that of Perseus, the legendary Greek hero who fought Medusa and beheaded her, giving her severed head to Athena who then placed it her shield or armor. Or it was also supposed to be an amulet of protection against the'evil eye'. The idea of the Gorgon or Medusa style head is that it was supposed to almost "freeze the enemy to stone" and give you a great victory.One of the best explanation for this piece is to have been placed in the middle of the breast plate on the chest with special holes that look like they were attached with iron nails at some point in history. The gorgoneion has evolved from a snake haired monster to a beautiful woman in the later Greek and Roman times in form and style of the Medusa Rondanini, and is actually still used by the famous Italian brand Versace as their symbol. Multiple examples of her head being used include a mosaic of Alexander the Great on horseback and various emperors. Very rare ancient Roman military artifact of exception style and beauty. Provenance: From private collection in the United States of America. Ownership History: From private collection in the United States, bought in private sale in the United States of America. The aegis or aigis , as stated in the Iliad , is carried by Athena and Zeus, but its nature is uncertain. It had been interpreted as an animal skin or a shield, sometimes bearing the head of a Gorgon. There may be a connection with a deity named Aex or Aix , a daughter of Helios and a nurse of Zeus or alternatively a mistress of Zeus Pseudo-Hyginus, Astronomica 2. The aegis of Athena is referred to in several places in the Iliad.
It produced a sound as from a myriad roaring dragons (Iliad, 4.17) and was borne by Athena in battle... And among them went bright-eyed Athene, holding the precious aegis which is ageless and immortal: a hundred tassels of pure gold hang fluttering from it, tight-woven each of them, and each the worth of a hundred oxen. Medusa, the gorgon, was beheaded by the hero Perseus, who thereafter used her head, which retained its ability to turn onlookers to stone, as a weapon until he gave it to the goddess Athena to place on her shield. In classical antiquity the image of the head of Medusa appeared in the evil-averting device known as the Gorgoneion. Because of their legendary and powerful gaze that could turn one to stone, images of the Gorgons were put upon objects and buildings for protection.The modern concept of doing something "under someone's aegis " means doing something under the protection of a powerful, knowledgeable, or benevolent source. The word aegis is identified with protection by a strong force with its roots in Greek mythology and adopted by the Romans; there are parallels in Norse mythology and in Egyptian mythology as well, where the Greek word aegis is applied by extension.
Depiction of Alexander the Great from an ancient Roman mosaic, wearing the gorgon head (Gorgoneion) as aegis on his breast plate while charging into battle. In Ancient Greece, the Gorgoneion was originally a horror-creating apotropaic pendant showing the Gorgon's head. It was assimilated by the Olympian deities Zeus and Athena: both are said to have worn it as a protective pendant.
It was assumed, among other godlike attributes, as a royal aegis, by rulers of the Hellenistic age, as shown, for instance, on the Alexander Mosaic and the Gonzaga Cameo. Homer refers to the Gorgon on four occasions, each time alluding to the head alone, as if the creature had no body. Jane Ellen Harrison notes that Medusa is a head and nothing more...
A mask with a body later appended. Up to the 5th century BC, the head was depicted as particularly ugly, with a protruding tongue, boar tusks, puffy cheeks, her eyeballs staring fixedly on the viewer and the snakes twisting all around her.
The direct frontal stare, "seemingly looking out from its own iconographical context and directly challenging the viewer", was highly unusual in ancient Greek art. In some instances a beard (probably standing for streaks of blood) was appended to her chin, making her appear as an orgiastic deity akin to Dionysus. Gorgoneia that decorate the shields of warriors on mid-5th century Greek vases are considerably less grotesque and menacing. By that time, the Gorgon had lost her tusks and the snakes were rather stylized. The Hellenistic marble known as the Medusa Rondanini illustrates the Gorgon's eventual transformation into a beautiful woman.The over-lifesize Medusa Rondanini , the best late Hellenistic or Augustan Roman marble copy of the head of Medusa, is rendered more humanized and beautiful than the always grotesque apotropaic head of Medusa that appeared as the Gorgoneion on the aegis of Athena. The Medusa Rondanini was formerly exhibited in Palazzo Rondanini in the upper end of via del Corso, Rome, where it was overlooked by the great art historian Johann Joachim Winckelmann, perhaps distracted by Michelangelo's Rondanini Pietà in the same collection. It was much admired, nevertheless, by Goethe, who was struck by its "unspeakable anguished stare of death" and said of it, when first bringing it to the attention of art historians in 1786, that the mere knowledge that such a work could be created and still exists in the world makes me twice the person I was. The Medusa Rondanini may be a Roman copy of a classical work of the fifth century BC, a model attributed to one or another Athenian sculptor of the age of Phidias. Alternatively, it may have been modeled after a classicising Hellenistic work of the late fourth century BC. If it is of the fifth century, Janer Danforth Belson has pointed out, it is the first of the "beautiful gorgoneion" type to appear in Greek art by more than a century, and unparalleled in any contemporaneous representation of the Medusa head. Martin Robertson, following Furtwängler's attribution to Phidias, remarked that it would be unlikely for the beautiful face of the Medusa to be juxtaposed with the beautiful face of the goddess, whose gorgoneion retained its fearful archaic appearance. Janer Danforth Belson has made a case for its model to have been the gorgoneion on a gilt-bronze aegis that was an ex-voto of Antiochus IV and was hung on the south retaining wall of the Acropolis of Athens about 170 BC, where it was noted by Pausanias in the late second century AD. World-renowned expert numismatist, enthusiast, author and dealer in authentic ancient Greek, ancient Roman, ancient Byzantine, world coins & more.
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This item is in the category "Antiques\Antiquities\Roman". The seller is "highrating_lowprice" and is located in Rego Park, New York. This item can be shipped worldwide.