Head of Medusa


The two Medusa Heads used as pedestals under the two columns in the northwest corner of the Cistern are examples of the masterpieces of Roman sculpture art. It is not known from which structures the Medusa heads, which attracted the attention of people visiting the Cistern most, were taken and brought here. Researchers believe that they were commonly brought only for the purpose of being used as column pedestals during the construction of the Cistern. Despite this opinion, there are a number of legends emerged about the Head of Medusa. According to one legend, Medusa is one of the three Gorgons in Greek mythology, the female monsters of the underworld. Of these three sisters, the snake-headed Medusa had the power to turn those who look at her into stone. According to one opinion, Gorgon paintings and sculptures were used to protect large structures and special places at those times, and that is why the head of Medusa was placed in the cistern. According to another legend, Medusa was a girl who boasted of her black eyes, long hair and beautiful body. Medusa loved Perseus, the son of Zeus. Meanwhile, Athena also loved Perseus and was jealous of Medusa. Therefore, Athena turned Medusa’s hair into snakes. After that, everyone who Medusa looked at was started to turn into stone. Then Perseus beheaded Medusa and took advantage of her power to defeat many of his enemies. Based on this legend, the Head of Medusa was started to be engraved on the sword hilts in Byzantium and placed upside down as column pedestals (so that the people would not turn into stones). According to another legend, Medusa looked at her side and turned herself into a stone. That is why the sculptor who sculptured her made the Medusa in three separate positions according to the angles of reflection of the light.