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Alice Pike Barney, Medusa (Laura Dreyfus Barney), 1892, pastel on canvas, 92 x 72.8 in, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington D.C.

Medusa was one of the three Gorgons--monsters with snakes for hair and a gaze that turns people to stone.  Aided by Hermes/Mercury and Athena/Minerva, Perseus slays Medusa and gives the goddess her head (which still has its petrifying ability) for her breastplate.  The horse Pegasus (later ridden by Bellerophon) is born from the severed head, and coral is formed out of the blood.