ργος Πανόπτης) or
was a primordialgiantwhose epithet "
", "all-seeing", led to his being describedwith multiple, often one hundred, eyes. The epithet
. "In a way,"Walter Burkertobserves, "the power and order of Argosthe city are embodied in Argos the neatherd, lord of the herd and lord of the land,whose name itself is the name of the land."
, reflecting his mythic role, set by Hera as a very effective watchman of Io, wasdescribed in a fragment of a lost poem
, attributed to Hesiod
"And set a watcher upon her, great and strong Argos, who with four eyes looks every way. And the goddess stirred in him unwearying strength: sleep never fell upon his eyes; but he kept surewatch always."
In the fifth century and later, Argus' wakeful alertness was explained for an increasingly literalculture as his having so many eyes that only a few of the eyes would sleep at a time: there werealways eyes still awake. In the second century CEPausaniasnoted at Argos, in the temple of ZeusLarissaios, an archaic image of Zeus with a third eye in the center of his forehead,allegedlyPriam's
purloined from Troy.
According to Ovid, to commemorate her
faithful watchman, Hera had the hundred eyes of Argus preserved forever, in apeacock's tail.
Argus, the neatherd, dozes off :Velasquezrenders the theme of stealth and murder in modern dress, 1659 (Prado