October 16, 2012 – Eye of the Peacock (Panoptes)

In Greek mythology, Argus Panoptes or Argos was a primordial giant whose epithet, “Panoptes (which means all-seeing), led to his being described with multiple, often one hundred, eyes.  Argus’ wakeful alertness was explained for an increasingly literal culture as his having so many eyes that only a few of the eyes would sleep at a time: there were always eyes still awake.

Argus was Hera’s servant. His great service to the Olympian pantheon was to slay the chthonic serpent-legged monster Echidna as she slept in her cave. Hera’s defining task for Argus was to guard the white heifer Io from Zeus, keeping her chained to the sacred olive tree at the Argive Heraion. She charged him to “Tether this cow safely to an olive-tree at Nemea”. Hera knew that the heifer was in reality Io, one of the many nymphs Zeus was coupling with to establish a new order. To free Io, Zeus had Argus slain by Hermes. Hermes, disguised as a shepherd, first put all of Argus’s eyes asleep with spoken charms, then slew him by hitting him with a stone, the first stain of bloodshed among the new generation of gods.

Hera took those eyes and put them into the tail feathers of her favorite bird – the peacock.  (wikipedia)

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