Benvenuto Cellini, Perseus with the Head of Medusa, 1545, bronze, 320 cm, Loggia dei Lanzi, Piazza della Signoria, Florence
Perseus is a classical hero who appears in Greek mythology. The son of Zeus/Jupiter and Danaë, Perseus was given the task of slaying Medusa by a suitor of his mother, who hoped he would be killed. Yet with the aid of Hermes/Mercury and Athena/Minerva, he slays the Gorgon and brings back its head. He also frees the princess Andromeda from a sea monster, and marries her.
Perseus is often depicted in one of two scenes: slaying the Gorgon (as seen here), or rescuing Andromeda. At times, he also carries a shield, which was given to him by Athena/Minerva and was used to kill the Gorgon.