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.