Cameo Gem set into a Ring

Unknown25 B.C. - A.D. 25

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The Greek hero Perseus stands contemplating the decapitated head of the gorgon Medusa. In his left hand, he holds the harpe, or curved sword, that he used for the deed. The naked hero has a cloak thrown over his left arm, and he wears the winged sandals given to him by the god Hermes.

The cameo may be derived from a statue of Perseus carved in the 400s B.C. by Myron. This depiction of the hero is unusual and implies some confusion on the part of the artist. According to the myth, looking at the face of Medusa instantly turned the viewer to stone. This gem appears to conflate the Perseus story with a motif popular in this period, that of an actor gazing at a mask on a column.

Cameos were popular among the Romans and frequently reproduced Greek sculpture. Gold rings of this form with an oval bezel were also popular.

Show lessRead more


  • Title: Cameo Gem set into a Ring
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date: 25 B.C. - A.D. 25
  • Location Created: Roman Empire
  • Physical Dimensions: 1.8 x 1 cm (11/16 x 3/8 in.)
  • External Link: Find out more about this object on the Museum website.
  • Medium: Gold; white on brown sardonyx
  • Source Credit Line: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Villa Collection, Malibu, California
  • Object Type: Gem
  • Object Status: Permanent Collection
  • Number: 87.AN.24
  • Display Location: Currently on view at: Getty Villa, Gallery 109, Mythological Heroes
  • Department: Antiquities
  • Culture: Roman
  • Classification: Jewelry