[Image: ‘Tête de Méduse’, 1618: Peter-Paul Rubens]

I have always regarded the myth of Perseus slaying the Medusa as an allegory of facing one’s own worst fears; of taking a leap of faith and destroying or overcoming that which is inconceivably horrific. One must vanquish such a terrible foe, or perish in the attempt. The fear itself has a momentum, a palpable quality that is indeed an additional threat, taken in concert with the original object of that fear. To end this runaway panic, one must strike definitively, thus neutralizing the threat itself and the dreadful nimbus of horror that radiates from it.


But what if, in the process, you slew the foe and became a monster far more terrible than your now dead adversary? What if you pitied your dead enemy as a fallen innocent? Indeed, the blackest and most fearsome nemesis might dwell inside one’s own being, having been there all along, with only a naïve Medusa having attempted to bar your way to the portal of the Abyss that is Human Soul…








J'ai vu. Les autres n'ont point d'yeux; que verraient-ils? 

Sorcière empoisonneuse aux rampantes manœuvres, 

J'ai vu tous tes pensers, tes désirs et tes œuvres 

Sourdre dans tes cheveux en reptiles subtils.


Hideux, gluants, glacés, écaillés de béryls, 

Par torsades aspics, vipères et couleuvres 

Couronnent de terreur ton front pareil aux pieuvres 

Échevelant dans l'eau leurs tentacules vils.


J'ai vu. Je ne suis point dupe des lèvres fraiches 

Ni des chairs où sourit le blond duvet des pêches, 

Ni des yeux où l'Enfer feint la clarté des cieux.


Ma tête aussi, Méduse, est froide et meurtrière, 

Et je pétrifierais tes serpents vicieux 

S'ils osaient seulement frôler mon front de pierre.



Iwan Gilkin, « La Nuit », 1897.








I saw. What would others see? They haven’t any eyes.

Poisoning Witch with rampant sleight-of-hand,

I saw all your thoughts, desires, deeds stand;

And in your hair like subtle reptiles rise.


Hideous, sticky, frozen, bescaled in beryls, they;

Young hatchling serpents twist, vipers and snakes

Like octopi: your crown of asps and terror shakes

Its vile tentacles, all tousling in the water lay.


I saw. Unseduced by cool lips am I,

Nor of peach-downed skin with its smile sly

Nor the eyes of Hell with Heaven’s feignèd light.


My head too, Medusa, is murderous and cold,

And your vicious snakes I would petrify in fright,

If to touch my face of stone, they would make so bold.



Iwan Gilkin, La Nuit, 1897

(Traduction Anglaise : Sardonique Schadenfreude Rictus / Dr. Bathybius, Août 2006)