This vividly painted work renders the Greco-Roman mythical Gorgon, Medusa, armed with the natural powers of her counterpart in name — Jellyfish (Medusozoa). Medusa is here portrayed as a hybrid monster, stinging others with deceitful words as they come out of her mouth, yet painted as a frail and unravelling form, suggesting the poisonous and groundless nature of lies.
Medusa is likely considered a figure of deceit by Sveva based upon the historical interpretation of her as a deceiver of Athena. According to the account of the Roman poet, Ovid, Athena transformed Medusa into a monster when she discovered that Medusa had engaged in intercourse with Poseidon in her temple, thus desecrating it and betraying the goddess. This story, however, has undergone revived scrutiny in recent decades, with many scholars speculating that the more accurate interpretation of Ovid suggests that Medusa had been raped, thereby drastically altering the narrative that portrays Medusa as a dangerous seducer and a monstrous emblem of female deception and trickery.