Navigation – Plan du site

AccueilNumérosVol. VI – n° 3La mythologie antique revisitée‘A Gorgon shadowed under Venus’ f...

La mythologie antique revisitée

A Gorgon shadowed under Venus’ face’: Deceptive Beauty in Elizabethan Love Poems

A Gorgon shadowed under Venus’ face’: la beauté trompeuse dans la poésie amoureuse élisabéthaine
Gaëlle Ginestet
p. 156-166

Résumé

Pour les auteurs des XVIe et XVIIe  siècles, il était courant d’opposer Vénus, déesse de la beauté et de la sensualité, à Diane, déesse de la chasteté. En revanche, il est plus rare d’observer Vénus dans une relation de contraste avec la Gorgone Méduse. C’est pourtant le cas dans le vers « A Gorgon shadowed under Venus’ face », tiré des Sonnets to the Fairest Coelia (1594), de William Percy. Le Poète-Amant est victime d’un trompe-l’oeil inversé : la Dame qu’il aime lui donne l’illusion d’être une statue de Vénus, mais elle est bien un être vivant, malgré sa peau ivoirine. La belle révèle alors le visage d’une hideuse Gorgone au regard pétrifiant. Ce vers de Percy résume bien la superposition dans la poésie amoureuse des deux mythes de Vénus et de Méduse, c’est-à-dire de la beauté voluptueuse sous laquelle se cache la cruauté meurtrière – également illustrée par d’autres figures mythologiques au charme captieux : les Sirènes, Circé, ou Pandore.

Haut de page

Texte intégral

  • 1  William Percy, Sonnets to the fairest Cœlia [London, 1594], in Sidney Lee(Ed.), Elizabethan Sonnet (...)

1Elizabethan authors frequently opposed Venus, the goddess of beauty and sensuality, with Diana, the goddess of chastity. On the other hand, it is rarer at this period to find Venus in a contrastive relationship with the Gorgon Medusa. It is however the case in the line “A Gorgon shadowed under Venus’ face”, from the Sonnets to the Fairest Coelia1 (1594), a sequence by William Percy (1574-1648), a poet and playwright who was also son to the eighth earl of Northumberland. This line led me to interrogate the links between the two mythological figures in the Elizabethan love sonnet sequences, a genre that peaked around the 1590s. Venus is as seductive as Medusa is repugnant. The smile of the former attracts and ravishes while the face of the second frightens and petrifies. The former conjures up sensuality and sweetness of living, whereas the second leaves the death of the senses behind her. The appearance of the Gorgon next to Venus indicates that beauty is only a façade, a trompe-l’œil hiding a personality which is darker than it seems, in the purest Petrarchan vein.

2I will first briefly recall the technique of the blazon, in which venustas is predominant, but nevertheless lets the reader catch a glimpse of Medusean traits in the sonnet Lady. Then I will bring to light several troubling parallels between the Gorgon and the Lady, which will lead to the conclusion that Medusa represents the other side of the mirror — the Lady’s dark side.

The blazon

3In sixteenth-century poetry the blazon is an exercise of style in which the Poet examines the beauties and qualities of the Lady. A sub-genre is the mythological blazon, where the Lover also describes the body of his beloved by comparing it with that of gods and goddesses from classical mythology.

  • 2  My translation. “[L]a grâce figure au xvie siècle dans un ensemble de notions qui sont en relation (...)

4About fifteen such blazons are to be found in the Elizabethan love sonnet sequences. In most of them, Venus comes and offers her beauty, her grace, her sweetness or her smile to the Poet’s beloved, who, hence, becomes the embodiment of venustas, thus defined by Françoise Joukovsky: “grace is in the 16th century among a set of notions related with the goddess of seduction, Venus. […] Together they make up venustas […]. It is a form of beauty linked with pleasure”2.

  • 3  Barnabe Barnes, Parthenophil and Parthenophe.Sonnettes, Madrigals, Elegies and Odes [London, 1593] (...)
  • 4  William Alexander of Menstrie, Aurora.Containing the first fancies of the Authors youth [London, 1 (...)
  • 5  David Murray, Cælia. Containing certaine Sonets [London, 1611], in Holger M. Klein (Ed.), English (...)

5However, negative connotations creep into some of these blazons. For indeed the Lady does not have only positive qualities, and especially, one of her shortcomings is the disdain she shows towards her suitor. For instance, the Lady is compared to Jupiter for his anger and thunder (Parthenophil and Parthenophe3, 19 and Aurora4, 74), or to Saturn for his grave air and his frowning brow (Parthenophil and Parthenophe, 78 and Aurora, 74). In a blazon by the Scottish poet David Murray, the beautiful Caelia is endowed with Cupid’s eyes, with which she throws the darts that give the love disease5.

6These darts, even if they are darts of love, are nonetheless weapons. Barnabe Barnes, in Parthenophil and Parthenophe, underlines their dangerous nature by drawing a parallel between the Lady, Cupid and Medusa:

If Cupid keepe his quiuer in thine eye,
And shoote at ouer-daring, gasers hartes,
Alas why be not men afrayde, and flye
As from Medusaes, doubting after smartes? (Sonnet LXVII).

  • 6  Petrarch, Canzoniere / Le Chansonnier, trans. Pierre Blanc, Coll. Classiques Garnier, Paris: Borda (...)

Equating the eyes of the Lady with the god of love’s darts is a commonplace in Elizabethan love sonnets. The comparison with the Gorgon is less usual but nevertheless is a topos of Renaissance love poetry; Petrarch himself used it about his Laura6. Surprising though it may seem, the Poet’s beloved and the Gorgon have common points.

Similitudes between the Lady and Medusa

  • 7  Natale Conti, Mythologiae, trans. John Mulryan and Steven Brown, Tempe, Arizona: Arizona Center fo (...)
  • 8  The 1627 French edition makes the bodies of the Gorgons even more monstrous since the translator w (...)

7At first sight, Medusa looks the exact opposite of the Lady. One is hideous, with living venomous snakes for hair, whereas the other is beautiful and has sun-like hair. But on closer scrutiny, the Lady shares two characteristics with the Greek Medusa. The first one is physical. The mythographer Natale Conti offers a description of the three Gorgons, Stheno, Euryale and Medusa, as Perseus discovers them: “These creatures had heads entwined with scaly serpents, huge boar-like teeth, iron-hard hands, and wings they used to fly all over the place”7. Even if the style is very different, it sounds like one of those blazons that map out the body of the beloved8. The Greek iconography, which is very abundant as far as the Gorgons are concerned, confirms the composite character of the monster, denoting a mixture of humanity and bestiality and a threatening androgyny. Among the monstrous features, the Ovidian and Elizabethan descriptions only take into account the snaky hair: at the time of the sonnet vogue, the Gorgon was more humanised than bestial.

  • 9  My translation. “[L]es artistes transforment sa laideur en beauté. Avant la fin du 5esiècle, elle (...)

8Furthermore, Medusa’s ugliness is misleading, because the latter was not always a monster. Antiquity sometimes represented her as a superb woman. The Hellenist Françoise Frontisi-Ducroux explains it: “Artists turn her ugliness into beauty. Before the end of the 5th century, she became too beautiful a woman, the sight of whom petrified as inescapably as her original ugliness did9”. Ovid, through Perseus, reminds us that Medusa was a much-courted beauty before being changed into a repulsive creature by Minerva:

  • 10  Arthur Golding, Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Translated by Arthur Golding [The.xv. Bookes of P. Ouidius N (...)

She both in comely port
And beauty every other wight surmounted in such sort
That many suitors unto her did earnestly resort.
And though that whole from top to toe most beautiful she were,
In all her body was no part more goodly than her hair.
I know some parties yet alive that say they did her see.
It is reported how she should abused by Neptune be
In Pallas’ church; from which foul fact Jove’s daughter turned her eye
And with her target hid her face from such a villainy.
And lest it should unpunished be, she turned her seemly hair
To loathly snakes, the which (the more to put her foes in fear)
Before her breast continually she in her shield doth bear10. (IV, 968-79).

Ovid gives an explanation for Medusa’s atrocity. Because she was the victim of a rape, she is protected from the desire of men by her off-putting aspect. This fear of masculine desire is one more similarity between Medusa and the sonnet Lady, who is sometimes compared with Daphne or Syrinx, maidens who respectively fled Apollo and Pan. Natale Conti gives a different explanation for the Gorgon’s metamorphosis into a monster:

  • 11  Natale Conti, op. cit., Book VII, ch. 11, vol. II, 634.

[Isaacius] claims that in Pisidia Medusa was easily the most beautiful woman of her age. And she was so vain about her glorious hair that she dared to claim that she was more beautiful than Pallas, and even to challenge the goddess to a beauty contest. The goddess was so displeased by her arrogance that she punished her twice: first she changed the hair Medusa bragged about so much into a bunch of frighteningly ugly and terrible snakes, and then she made sure no [one] would admire Medusa any more by turning anyone who dared to look at her into stone11.

Conti adds the petrifying power to Medusa’s means of protecting herself from male aggression. But whether she is frighteningly ugly or unbearably beautiful, it amounts to the same thing: the petrifaction of the one who dares to look at her.

  • 12  Apollodorus, The Library of Greek Mythology, trans. Robin Hard, Coll. Oxford World’s Classics, Oxf (...)
  • 13  Euripide, Ion, in Théâtre complet, Marie Delcour-Curvers (Ed.), Coll. Bibliothèque de la Pléiade, (...)

9The second characteristic that the Lady shares with the Gorgon is the power of life and death, because she is capable of killing or of bringing her wooer back to life with a single look or a single smile. Medusa’s blood possesses the same power. According to the Greek mythographer Apollodorus, the god of medicine, Asclepios (Esculapius for the Romans) “had received from Athene blood that had flowed from the veins of the Gorgon; and he used the blood that had flowed from the veins on the left side to put people to death, and that which had flowed from the right, to save them — and it was by this means that he raised the dead”12. Euripides, in Ion, also evokes this double particularity13.

10Surprising similarities do exist between Medusa and the sonnet Lady, who are both two-faced women. And as far as the Lady is concerned, her hidden face, her dark side, is symbolised by the figure of the Gorgon.

The hidden Gorgon

Medusa in the mirror

  • 14  Robert Tofte, Laura.The Toys of a Traveller: or The Feast of Fancy. Divided into Three Parts, by R (...)

11When reading sonnet I, 39 in Robert Tofte’s Laura14, one realises that the eponymous heroine is petrified by her own reflection in the mirror:

Seated on marble was my Lady blithe,
Holding in hand a crystal looking-glass,
Marking of Lovers thousands; who alive,
Thanks only to her beauty rare did pass.
To pry in glasses likes her: but afterward
She takes the nature of the stone most hard.
For whilst she cheerfully doth fix her eyes,
Gazing upon the brightness of the one;
Her heart, by th’ other ‘s made, in strangy wise,
Hard as a rock and senseless as a stone [.] (I, 39).

12On the one hand, Laura is contaminated by the marble she is sitting on, and on the other hand, metamorphosed by the look she gives her own image. Engrossed in the contemplation of her reflection, Laura is reminiscent of Narcissus. But watching her own unbearable sun-like beauty petrifies her and makes her insensitive to love: there thus arises a fusion between Medusa and Narcissus. The Lady’s reflection acts here like the Gorgon. Hence, what the Lady sees in her looking-glass is Medusa’s visage — no less: this underlines the beloved’s duplicity. The mirror here reveals what is hidden.

  • 15  Maurice Scève, Délie, objet de plus haute vertu [Lyons, 1544], Françoise Charpentier (Ed.), Paris: (...)

13The scene recalls an engraving in Maurice Scève’s Délie (1544), representing a basilisk, the fabulous animal with a petrifying look like Medusa’s, watching himself in a looking-glass. The title is “Le Basilisque et le Miroir” and the motto “Mon regard par toi me tue” (“My look kills me through you”)15. The scene in Tofte’s poem is also reminiscent of the famous circular painting by Caravaggio (1600-1601, Uffizi, Florence). The canvas is fixed on a poplar shield, which is supposed to symbolise Perseus’s, but its shape can also evoke a mirror. Caravaggio has chosen to paint his androgynous Medusa open-mouthed, thereby conveying the astonishment associated with petrifaction.

The Gorgon’s trompe-l’œil

14Just like Robert Tofte’s poem about Medusa hidden in a looking-glass, the thirteenth of William Percy’s Sonnets to the Fairest Coelia brings into relief the Lady’s stupefying duplicity. This is its first quatrain:

With grievous thoughts and weighty care opprest,
One day I went to Venus’s Fanacle;
Of Cypriandreams, which did me sore molest,
To be resolved by certain Oracle. (XIII, 1-4).

  • 16  Vincenzo Cartari, The Fountaine of Ancient Fiction, trans. Richard Linche, Amsterdam and New York: (...)

The “Cyprian dreams” which oppress Coelia’s suitor must be read as “Venusian dreams”, “dreams of love”. The Poet transports himself onto the island of Cyprus, probably in the town of Paphos, where a temple devoted to Venus sat. The temple is thus described in Richard Linche’s adaptation of Vincenzo Cartari’s mythographic treatise: “the people therabouts adore and worship hir with great zeale & veneration, and erected and dedicated vnto her a most rich and stately temple, very gorgeous and costly16”. As soon as he enters the temple, the Poet is deluded by a trompe-l’œil:

But from the shrine, where Venuswont to stand,
I saw a Lady fair and delicate
Did beckon to me with her ivory hand.
Weening She was the Goddess of the Fane,
With cheerful looks I towards bent my pace,
Soon when I came, I found unto my bane,
A Gorgon shadowed under Venus’face;
Whereat affright, when back I would be gone,
I stood transformèd to a speechless stone. (XIII, 6-14).

  • 17  “An unreal appearance; a delusive semblance or image; a vain and unsubstantial object of pursuit. (...)
  • 18  See Sylvain Détoc, La Gorgone Méduse, Coll. Figures et Mythes, Monaco [Paris]: Éditions du Rocher, (...)

The Poet is the victim of an optical illusion, which is nevertheless not caused by the art of the sculptor, but rather by that of the Poet. Coelia’s beauty and ivory skin — characteristics so often constructed by the sonneteers — explain her wooer’s error. This is an example of inverted trompe-l’œil: while a statue’s function is to give an illusion of life, here it is a living being who gives the illusion of being a statue. This sonnet creates a double movement of petrifaction, first from the Poet to the Lady who is as beautiful as a statue of Venus, and then from the Lady to the Poet, transformed into a mute stone by Coelia’s Medusean aspect. In the line “A Gorgon shadowed under Venus’ face”, the notion of artistic illusion and statuary is extended by “shadowed”, used here in the meaning of “a delusive semblance or image”17, highlighting the Lady’s specious character. “Under” indicates the superimposition of two images, as on a palimpsest or on a medal with two different faces. Hence, the superimposition, in the Elizabethan love sonnet genre, of Venus and Medusa, of voluptuous beauty and murderous cruelty, is summarised in this single line by Percy. Coelia’s two opposite identities bring about two different responses in the Lover, underlined by two adjectives which are placed in parallel on lines 11 and 13: with Venus, he is “cheerful”, with Medusa, “affright”. In different centuries, petrifaction results from watching either the Gorgon’s repelling ugliness or her dazzling beauty, which is the version that the Pléiade poets remember18. In this sonnet, it seems that the Poet’s petrifaction is rather due to her ugliness, which was artfully hidden under a beautiful trompe-l’œil. It is when he finally makes out the Lady’s Medusean face that he is frightened and is metamorphosed into cold stone.

15Shakespeare’s dramatic works offer an example that I find similar. In Antony and Cleopatra, Mars is the mythological figure to whom Antony is many times compared, bringing to light his manly qualities of warrior and leader. But in Act 2, Scene 5, the myth of the Gorgon appears with a pictorial metaphor. Cleopatra has just learnt that Antony has wedded Octavia, and exclaims:

  • 19  William Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra, in John Wilders (Ed.), Arden 3, “The Arden Shakespeare” (...)

Cleopatra. Let him for ever go! Let him not, Charmian;
Though he be painted one way like a Gorgon,
The other way’s a Mars19. (2.5.116-118)

  • 20  See the footnote, Ibidem.

What Cleopatra is describing here is a kind of painting which was in vogue during the Renaissance, the “perspective” picture20. It provoked an optical illusion: when looking at it from one side, one could see Mars, and from another side, one could see Medusa. The common point between the two is rage: Mars’s warlike rage, making him a great man, and the Gorgon’s destructive rage, with no positive side to it. The mythological references also illustrate Cleopatra’s rage when she hears the news of Antony’s marriage. The dividing line is thin between beauty and ugliness, between warlike qualities and destructive energy. In Shakespeare’s play, Medusa is Antony’s hidden face, as she is the Lady’s in the Elizabethan love sonnets.


  

  • 21  My translation. “[S]on extrême fugacité en littérature”, Sylvain Détoc, op. cit., 33.
  • 22  My translation.“Méduse est une figure qui se dérobe, précisément parce qu’elle a pour fonction d’e (...)

16Beauty is but a snare, an illusion under which lurks destructive cruelty. The Gorgon, therefore, is the reverse side of a coin showing the enticing but deceptive Venus, who looks so perfect at first glance. In the book he devoted to Medusa, Sylvain Détoc writes of what he calls “her extreme fleetingness in literature”21. For him, “Medusa is a figure who hides from view, precisely because her function is to express the inexpressible, to speak the unspeakable and to represent the irrepresentable”22. I see a similarity between this remark and the fact that in some love sonnets, the Gorgon only reveals herself in trompe-l’œils or through indirect means like the mirror. Hence, she seems to symbolise the darkest, the most shameful and the most deeply buried aspects of man, which cannot be expressed otherwise.

17The love sonnet sequences are the scene of a fight between a protean Jove — the Lover trying to conquer the Lady by all possible means — and a Gorgon — the Lady from whom a single unfavourable glance can turn the Poet into a mute and senseless block of stone. Here the theme of the forbidden look, of which the fable of Diana and Acteon is a variant, enters the game. In the Elizabethan love sonnets, woman is fiercely chaste, beautiful and deceptive. Other female mythological figures are witness to the Lady’s specious charm, such as Pandora or Circe. Obviously, one also thinks of the Sirens, to whom Geffrey Whitney devoted an emblem. I will end on the warning he gives all men:

Haut de page

Bibliographie

Which shewes to us, when Bewtie seekes to snare
The carelesse man, whoe dothe no daunger dreede,
That he shoulde flie, and shoulde in time beware,
And not on lookes, his fickle fancie feede:
Suche Mairemaides live, that promise onelie joyes:
But hee that yeldes, at lengthe him selffe distroies.

ALEXANDER OF MENSTRIE William, Aurora.Containing the first fancies of the Authors youth [London, 1604], in Holger M. KLEIN (Ed.), English and Scottish Sonnet Sequences of the Renaissance I, Coll. Olms Studien, Hildesheim, Zürich and New York: Georg Olms AG, 1984.

APOLLODORUS, The Library of Greek Mythology, trans. Robin Hard, Coll. Oxford World’s Classics, Oxford: Oxford U P, 1997.

BARNES Barnabe, Parthenophil and Parthenophe. Sonnettes, Madrigals, Elegies and Odes [London, 1593], Victor A. Doyno (Ed.), Carbondale and Edwardville:  Southern Illinois U P, 1971.

CARTARI Vincenzo, The Fountaine of Ancient Fiction [London, 1599], trans. Richard Linche, Amsterdam and New York: Theatrum Orbis Terrarum and Da Capo Press, 1973.

__________________, Le Imagini de i dei de gli antichi, Ginetta Auzzas, Federica Martignago, Manlio Pastore Stocchi and Paola Rigo (Ed.), Vicenza: Neri Pozza, 1996.

COMES Natalis, Mythologie ou explication des fables [Paris, 1627], trans. Jean de Montlyard, revised by Jean Baudouin, 2 vol., New York and London: Garland, 1976.

CONTI Natale, Mythologiae, trans. John Mulryan and Steven Brown, 2 vol., Tempe, Arizona: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2006.

DÉTOC Sylvain, La Gorgone Méduse, Coll. Figures et Mythes, Monaco [Paris]: Éditions du Rocher, 2006.

EURIPIDE, Ion, in Théâtre complet, Marie Delcour-Curvers (Ed.), Coll. Bibliothèque de la Pléiade, Paris: Gallimard, 1962.

FRONTISI-DUCROUX Françoise, L’Homme-cerf et la femme-araignée. Figures grecques de la métamorphose, Coll. Le Temps des Images, Paris: Gallimard, 2003.

GOLDING Arthur, Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Translated by Arthur Golding [The .xv. Bookes of P. Ouidius Naso, entytuled Metamorphosis,London, 1567], Madeleine Forey (Ed.), Coll. Penguin Classics, London: Penguin, 2002.

JOUKOVSKY Françoise, Le Bel objet. Les paradis artificiels de la Pléiade, Coll. Confluences, Paris: Honoré Champion, 1991.

MURRAY David, Cælia. Containing certaine Sonets [London, 1611], in Holger M. KLEIN (Ed.), English and Scottish Sonnet Sequences of the Renaissance I, Coll. Olms Studien, Hildesheim, Zürich and New York: Georg Olms AG, 1984.

PERCY William, Sonnets to the fairest Cœlia [London, 1594], in Sidney LEE(Ed.), Elizabethan Sonnets, vol. II (2 vol.), Westminster: Archibald Constable and Co. Ltd, 1904.

PETRARCH, Canzoniere / Le Chansonnier, trans. Pierre Blanc, Coll. Classiques Garnier, Paris: Bordas, 1988.

RONSARD Pierre (de), Le Premier Livre des Amours [1584], in Œuvres Complètes I, Jean Céard, Daniel Ménager and Michel Simonin (Ed.), vol. I (2 vol.), Paris: Gallimard, Coll. Bibliothèque de la Pléiade, 1993.

SCÈVE Maurice, Délie, objet de plus haute vertu [Lyons, 1544], Françoise Charpentier (Ed.), Coll. Poésie, Paris: Gallimard, 1984.

SHAKESPEARE William, Antony and Cleopatra, in John WILDERS (Ed.), Arden 3, “The Arden Shakespeare”, London and New York: Routledge, 1995.

TOFTE Robert, Laura. The Toys of a Traveller: or The Feast of Fancy. Divided into Three Parts, by R. T. Gentleman, in Sidney LEE(Ed.), Elizabethan Sonnets, vol. II (2 vol.), Westminster: Archibald Constable and Co. Ltd, 1904.

Haut de page

Notes

1  William Percy, Sonnets to the fairest Cœlia [London, 1594], in Sidney Lee(Ed.), Elizabethan Sonnets, vol. II (2 vol.), Westminster: Archibald Constable and Co. Ltd, 1904.

2  My translation. “[L]a grâce figure au xvie siècle dans un ensemble de notions qui sont en relation avec la déesse de la séduction, Vénus. […] Leur ensemble compose la venustas […]. C’est une forme de beauté liée au plaisir”. Françoise Joukovsky, Le Bel objet. Les paradis artificiels de la Pléiade, Paris: Honoré Champion, Coll. Confluences, 1991, 159.

3  Barnabe Barnes, Parthenophil and Parthenophe.Sonnettes, Madrigals, Elegies and Odes [London, 1593], Victor A. Doyno (Ed.), Carbondale and Edwardville: Southern Illinois University Press, 1971.

4  William Alexander of Menstrie, Aurora.Containing the first fancies of the Authors youth [London, 1604], in Holger M. Klein (Ed.), English and Scottish Sonnet Sequences of the Renaissance I, Coll. Olms Studien, Hildesheim, Zürich and New York: Georg Olms AG, 1984.

5  David Murray, Cælia. Containing certaine Sonets [London, 1611], in Holger M. Klein (Ed.), English and Scottish Sonnet Sequences of the Renaissance I, Coll. Olms Studien, Hildesheim, Zürich and New York: Georg Olms AG, 1984.

6  Petrarch, Canzoniere / Le Chansonnier, trans. Pierre Blanc, Coll. Classiques Garnier, Paris: Bordas, 1988, poems 179, 197 and 366.

7  Natale Conti, Mythologiae, trans. John Mulryan and Steven Brown, Tempe, Arizona: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2006, Book VII, ch. 11, vol. II (2 vol.), 634. This modern-day English version was translated from the 1581 Frankfurt edition.

8  The 1627 French edition makes the bodies of the Gorgons even more monstrous since the translator writes about “sharp claws” which are absent from the above-quoted edition: “les Gorgones, ayans les testes tressees de serpens escailleux, de grandes vilaines dents, comme les defenses des plus grands Sangliers, des mains de fonte, des griffes acerees & crochues, & des ailes pour voler”. Natalis Comes, Mythologie ou explication des fables [Paris, 1627], trans. Jean de Montlyard, revised by Jean Baudouin, vol. II (2 vol.), New York and London: Garland, 1976, Book VII, ch. 12, 762.

9  My translation. “[L]es artistes transforment sa laideur en beauté. Avant la fin du 5esiècle, elle deviendra une femme trop belle dont la vue pétrifiera aussi inéluctablement que sa laideur primordiale”. Françoise Frontisi-Ducroux, L’Homme-cerf et la femme-araignée. Figures grecques de la métamorphose, Coll. Le Temps des Images, Paris: Gallimard, 2003, 210.

10  Arthur Golding, Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Translated by Arthur Golding [The.xv. Bookes of P. Ouidius Naso, entytuled Metamorphosis,London, 1567], Madeleine Forey (Ed.), Coll. Penguin Classics, London: Penguin, 2002, 149.

11  Natale Conti, op. cit., Book VII, ch. 11, vol. II, 634.

12  Apollodorus, The Library of Greek Mythology, trans. Robin Hard, Coll. Oxford World’s Classics, Oxford: Oxford U P, 1997, 119.

13  Euripide, Ion, in Théâtre complet, Marie Delcour-Curvers (Ed.), Coll. Bibliothèque de la Pléiade, Paris: Gallimard, 1962, l. 1010-15, 670.

14  Robert Tofte, Laura.The Toys of a Traveller: or The Feast of Fancy. Divided into Three Parts, by R. T. Gentleman, in Sidney Lee (Ed.), Elizabethan Sonnets, vol. II (2 vol.), Westminster: Archibald Constable and Co. Ltd, 1904.

15  Maurice Scève, Délie, objet de plus haute vertu [Lyons, 1544], Françoise Charpentier (Ed.), Paris: Gallimard, Coll. Poésie, 1984, 155.

16  Vincenzo Cartari, The Fountaine of Ancient Fiction, trans. Richard Linche, Amsterdam and New York: Theatrum Orbis Terrarum and Da Capo Press, 1973, sig. Cc2v° and Cc3r°. The original work by Cartari is Le Imagini de i dei de gli antichi, Ginetta Auzzas, Federica Martignago, Manlio Pastore Stocchi and Paola Rigo (Ed.), Vicenza: Neri Pozza, 1996.

17  “An unreal appearance; a delusive semblance or image; a vain and unsubstantial object of pursuit. Often contrasted with substance”, OED shadow 6, a.

18  See Sylvain Détoc, La Gorgone Méduse, Coll. Figures et Mythes, Monaco [Paris]: Éditions du Rocher, 2006, 251. For instance, in sonnet 31 from Ronsard’s Amours: “Si de fortune elle vous voit çà bas, / Libre par l'air vous ne refuirez pas, / Tant doucement sa douce force abuse: / Ou comme moy esclave vous fera / De sa beauté, qui vous transformera / D’un seul regard, ainsi qu’une Meduse”, Pierre de Ronsard, Le Premier Livre des Amours [1584], in Œuvres Complètes I, Jean Céard, Daniel Ménager and Michel Simonin (Ed.), 2 vol., Bibliothèque de la Pléiade, Paris: Gallimard, 1993, 40.

19  William Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra, in John Wilders (Ed.), Arden 3, “The Arden Shakespeare”, London and New York: Routledge, 1995, 153-154.

20  See the footnote, Ibidem.

21  My translation. “[S]on extrême fugacité en littérature”, Sylvain Détoc, op. cit., 33.

22  My translation.“Méduse est une figure qui se dérobe, précisément parce qu’elle a pour fonction d’exprimer l’inexprimable, de raconter l’inénarrable, de représenter l’irreprésentable”, Ibid., 33-34.

Haut de page

Pour citer cet article

Référence papier

Gaëlle Ginestet, « ‘A Gorgon shadowed under Venus’ face’: Deceptive Beauty in Elizabethan Love Poems »Revue LISA/LISA e-journal, Vol. VI – n° 3 | 2008, 156-166.

Référence électronique

Gaëlle Ginestet, « ‘A Gorgon shadowed under Venus’ face’: Deceptive Beauty in Elizabethan Love Poems »Revue LISA/LISA e-journal [En ligne], Vol. VI – n° 3 | 2008, mis en ligne le 04 juin 2009, consulté le 26 février 2021. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/lisa/388 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/lisa.388

Haut de page

Auteur

Gaëlle Ginestet

Dr, (Montpellier, France)
Gaëlle Ginestet enseigne à l’Université Paul Valéry, Montpellier III et travaille avec l’Institut de Recherches sur la Renaissance, l’âge Classique et les Lumières (IRCL, UMR 5186 du CNRS). Son doctorat, obtenu dans la même université, porte sur la mythologie dans les recueils de sonnets amoureux élisabéthains. Elle est l’auteur d’un article sur Thomas Watson, dans Yves Peyré (Dir.), Mythe et littérature : Shakespeare et ses contemporains, Anglophonia, n°13, Presses Universitaires du Mirail, 2003.

Haut de page

Droits d’auteur

Licence Creative Commons
Les contenus de la Revue LISA / LISA e-journal sont mis à disposition selon les termes de la licence Creative Commons Attribution - Pas d'Utilisation Commerciale - Pas de Modification 4.0 International.

Haut de page
  • Logo DOAJ - Directory of Open Access Journals
  • OpenEdition Journals
Rechercher dans OpenEdition Search

Vous allez être redirigé vers OpenEdition Search