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.