We’ve officially started!
Day One of the A-to-Z Challenge in April 2017. Let’s do this.
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Now I should warn, that I didn’t stick to the common sense rule of writing short, pithy posts. Mine are long and bloated, but I’m having fun with it. And if you wanna skim, that’s absolutely cool with me!
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Let’s jump right in then.
As part of my Greek mythic figures, places, and things theme, my “A” post is Argus Panoptes, and from here on out known as Argus Dude-with-Many-Eyes.
Some places mentions his having 100 eyes, others are more vague with the exact number. I take the “pan” in “panoptes” openly, as in dude is all-seeing of like everything. He’s an omniscient man. Only he isn’t one of the Greek immortals.
Who is Argus?
Argus was a giant who called Argolis in the Peloponnese his home…or so it has been said. In some sources, he was the fatherless son of the goddess Gaia, and in others he was the son or grandson of a King Argus whom he was named after. But like most mythic figures, a questionable birth story is, like, a must.
So, Argus was a giant. Automatically means he had super, inhuman strength. He also had those many eyes. Depending on what version you’re reading, they were either spread out over his body or all those eyes stared into your soul from his head.
How did those eyes work?
So the idea behind all these eyes was so that Argus was always awake. He only needed to rest two at a time while the other 98 kept watch.
Totally random, but if we assume he’s an adult giant getting his healthy 7-8 hours (no long sleeper here), for all 25 pairs of his eyes to get a turn to sleep, it would take roughly 8ish days. A whole week!
Imagine what he could do with all that time…
Instead the idiot gets himself stuck in Godly business.
And it led to his death.
You see there was an Argive nymph called Io who Zeus fancied, and he wanted to get down with, only not with his wife keeping vigil over his extramarital activities. So he was pretty sneaky about it and they colluded happily ever after–
Not! Usually Hera finds out about Zeus’s affairs because for all the King of Gods is, he isn’t smart.
Zeus is caught in the act:
So Zeus was caught with his pants down by Hera, and he quickly transformed Io into a white heifer (cow) to deceive his hawkish wife.
Not stupid like her husband, Hera asked for the white cow as a gift. Some ladies want diamonds, others are happiest with a healthy-looking cow. Lord knows Zeus probably missed TONS of anniversaries and birthdays.
Whatever his reasoning, Zeus complied and passed Io in cow form over to Hera. No, she doesn’t slaughter Io and serve her for dinner to Zeus and the other gods. That would be a little messed up, and the Greek gods were sorta messed up.
Accepting Io the cow, but not much the shepherdess herself, Hera passed Io to Argus who would watch over her. Thwarted, Zeus sent Hermes with a message…
Zeus’s real message was more like, “Here, take this knife and get stabby with Argus. And, no, don’t deliver me the head like last time. That was some crazy-arse shit, Merc!”
How Hermes killed Argus:
Now, in some variants, Hermes killed Argus with a rock.
In others it’s a short sword Hermes was attributed to carrying along with his better-known herald’s wand/caduceus. Something sharp, anyways. And there’s a beheading.
How does Hermes do it with all those eyes watching?
Zeus OBVIOUSLY didn’t send him with instructions. Guy doesn’t even know how the first rule about cheating with your wife: making sure she isn’t the one walking in.
So, Hermes was probably on his own once Zeus sent out the hit. Using the power of music and storytelling (hopefully not this one–this one should be putting you to sleep), Hermes lulled Argus’s eyes closed.
And the rest you know about.
Conclusion (to a sad tale):
So Argus is slain and Hermes is given a new title “Argeiphontes” or “Slayer of Argus”.
I’m not sure if he was the brilliant one who thought of this because wasn’t the whole point of slaying Argus supposed to be sneaky?
Hera could probably put one-and-one together, and Zeus would have to fess up. Idiot.
But that’s another story…
Back to Argus. Hera learned of his death and she figured it would be in poor taste if she didn’t commemorate his duty in some way. So she posthumously rewarded Argus by placing his hundred (or many) eyes on the tail of the peacock, her spirit/god animal.
MORAL: you should have grabbed yourself an energy drink, Argus.
My sources to help with this post were:
Resourceful sites. Check them out!