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Argus 1

Argus 1 has been called "The All-seeing", because he had eyes in his whole body, or perhaps only one hundred eyes in his head that slept two at a time while the rest remained on guard.

Some deeds of Argus 1

Argus 1 was known for having killed a remarkable bull which ravaged Arcadia, and for having caught asleep and killed the monster Echidna, who used to carry off passers-by. Also when a Satyr wronged the Arcadians and robbed them of their cattle, Argus 1 killed him.

Zeus' affair with Io

Argus 1's last labor was to be the herdsman of Io, who had been transformed into a cow. When Zeus seduced Io, who at the time held the priesthood of Hera, he covered the land with a dark cloud. But his wife Hera, feeling she had been wronged, came down from heaven. So, in order to avoid his wife's anger, the god turned Io into a white cow. Some say that, on the occasion, Zeus swore that he had not made love to the woman, and that is why it is said that a lover's oaths do not draw down the anger of the gods. When the cloud dispersed, Hera, seeing the wonderful cow, asked Zeus about her origin, and he, still fearing her wife, declared that the cow had sprung from the earth.

Hera's assignment kills him

But the goddess in admiration asked for the cow as a gift, and although Zeus, unable to refuse, gave it to her, Hera did not put off all suspicion, and fearing Zeus' treachery, she set Argus 1 to guard the cow with his many eyes. Thus began Io's excruciating life as a cow and a prisoner, which continued for a while until Zeus, unable to bear Io's sufferings, ordered Hermes to steal the cow from Argus 1. As Hermes could not steal it secretly because Hierax 1 (who is only known for this) had babbled, he killed Argus 1 by the cast of a stone, and for this deed Hermes was surnamed Argiphontes.

The eyes of Argus 1 in the feathers of the peacock

Others have said that Hermes came disguised as a shepherd and that, sitting beside Argus 1, told him so many tales that all of Argus 1's eyes fell asleep. Then Hermes beheaded him with a hooked sword. But Hera, they say, took the eyes of Argus 1 and set them on the feathers of the peacock, which is her favorite bird.

Argus 2, Argus 3 and Argus 4 were ARGONAUTS. Argus 5, son of Zeus, was a king in Peloponnessus. Argus 6 was Odysseus' dog. Argus 7 is one of the PANS. Argus 8 was a warrior in the army of Adrastus 1. Argus 9 was one of the defenders of Thebes agains the SEVEN.

Hermes, wearing his winged cap, takes Argus 1 unawares; to the left Io the cow. 0532: Hermes and Argus. Painting by Jan Both 1615-1652 and Nikolaus Knüpfer, 1603-1655. Künsthistorische Museum, Wien.

Hera puts the eyes of Argus 1 in the feathers of the peacock. 2615: Hera gathers the eyes of Argus. Drawing from the 17C AD.


Parentage (five versions)





Agenor 4 & unknown


Arestor 1 & Mycene


Inachus & unknown


Gaia.- (by herself)


Argus 5 & Ismene 1


Agenor 4 is son of Ecbasus, son of Argus 5, son of Zeus.
Arestor 1 is otherwise unknown. Mycene is daughter of the river god Inachus. She was an Achaean beauty of former times, after whom the city Mycenae received its name.
Inachus consorted with Melia or with Argia 3. Both of them are OCEANIDS.
Argus 5 was king in the Peloponnesus, which he called Argos after himself.

Ismene 1

Iasus 3

Ismene 1 is a daughter of the river god Asopus. Iasus 3 (king of Argos) is sometimes called father of Io. But then some call him son of Triopas 1 (also king of Argos), or son of Phorbas 1, son either of Argus 5, or of Peranthus 2.

Related sections Argus 1 in GROUPS: BESTIARY, GAIA'S OFFSPRING 

Aes.Supp.306; Apd.2.1.2-3; Hes.Aeg.6; Hes.WD.68; Nonn.13.27; Ov.Met.1.624ff.; Prop.1.3.20; Pau.2.16.4; QS.10.190.