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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.