Terracotta relief: Athena
supervises building of the ship Argo; 1st century,
found near Porta Latina, Rome. British Museum.
|The name ARGO derives from the italian name of two distinct myths
related to navigation and vision:
- Argo, the first ship with
name in history, used by Jason and a band of 50 mythological heroes to
navigate all the Mediterranean sea and to fetch the GOLDen
fleece. As the Argo was equipped with all those implements and tackling
necessary for the management and guiding of the ship in open seas and through
the blows of the huge waves, she can represent the archetype of the perfect
(the all-seeing), the many eyed god with the gift of all-round vision.
Since Argus had a hundred eyes and could have some of them sleep while
others were awake, he made a fine watchman and thus was appointed by the
goddess Hera to watch the cow into which Io (Hera's priestess) had been
transformed. Disguised as a Shepard, Hermes gained Argus confidence and
lulled him to sleep. Once asleep Hermes killed Argus. As a memorial, Hera
took his eyes and set them into the tail of her favorite bird, the peacock.
Argus Panoptes Guarding the Heifer (Io),
Red Figure pitcher, c. 460 BC
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston