Argus (or Argos) was a monster in Greek mythology. He was famous in legend
for having many eyes. With his multiple sets of eyes, he could see nearly
everything in his vicinity. And indeed, with his keen vision, Argus was
regarded as an almost perfect mythological guard creature. Why only almost
perfect? Read on to see the answer to this question, and to learn more
about the story of Argus.
There are several legends in which Argus plays a part. Two of these tales
involve creatures that terrorized the area in and around Arcadia
(incidentally, Arcadia is located in the Peloponnese, a peninsula in
Greece). Argus set about ridding Arcadia of its troublesome pests. His
first task was to subdue a wild bull that was destroying the Arcadian
countryside. Then, Argus eliminated a malicious cattle-stealing satyr.
The other important legend in which Argus appears features some famous
characters from myth, including Hermes, Zeus, Hera, and Io. According to
the story, Hera, the Queen of the Olympian gods and goddesses, commanded
Argus to watch over Io. Io was a woman with whom Zeus – the ruler of the
Olympians – had conducted a passionate love affair. However, in order to
protect his mistress from the wrath of his wife, Zeus had transformed Io
into a heifer. So Hera, who was quite clever, had Argus guard her rival,
the heifer Io. Zeus was not pleased. He sent the god Hermes to dispatch the
monster. Hermes managed to subdue Argus, and here the details differ
depending on the source of the myth. Some sources suggest that Hermes
lulled Argus to sleep, while others state that Hermes killed the monster.
So in the end, the nearly perfect guard creature was defeated by the wit
and cunning of Hermes. Hera paid tribute to Argus by placing his eyes into
the tail of the peacock, her favorite bird. In this way, Argus was
immortalized, his eyes adorning the feathers of Hera’s peacock.