Argus, Hermes and Hera: How the Peacock Got His Eyes

The month of June is named for the Roman Goddess Juno. Her Greek counterpart Hera was associated with the peacock. It was the goddess who retrieved the hundred eyes of her slain servant Argus and set them like jewels amid the feathers of her favorite bird. At Hera's request the ever watchful giant was guarding the nymph Io from her unfaithful husband Zeus. The god had transformed her into a beautiful white heifer in an attempt to hide her from his jealous wife. Zeus sent Hermes to sing Agrus to sleep, sealing his eyes with his magic staff and then decapitating him. Russian painter Pyotr Ivanovich Sokolov (1753-1791) depicted Argus in human form being enchanted by Hermes. The god holds his caduceus and wears a winged hat in the painting by German artist Hans Thoma (1839-1924). Italian Baroque painter Orazio Riminaldi (1586-1631) shows Hera putting the eyes on the peacock's tail while Hermes flies away in the distance.