A Greek Myth

Io, once a beautiful princess, was one of Zeus' lovers. During a tryst, in panic, Zeus hid Io from his wife Hera by turning her into a lovely white heifer. Not easily fooled, Hera asked Zeus to give the heifer to her as a present. Zeus could not refuse since he knew that he would seem more suspicious if he failed to grant an animal as a gift to his wife. Hera immediately put Io, the heifer, under Argus' surveilance. Argus was an excellent watchman since he had a hundred eyes and could sleep with some closed and some open.

Because of Argus' ability, Zeus vainly sympathized with Io and felt so helpless in her rescue. In desperation, he went to his son Hermes, the messenger of the gods, and asked him to find a way to kill Argus. Approaching Argus, Hermes disguised himself as a country boy playing a sweet melody on his shepherd reed pipe. Argus enjoyed the music and asked Hermes to come closer and sit next to him for some shade under a tree. Hermes took the opportunity and continued playing on his pipe then talked as monotonously as possible. Some of Argus' eyes closed in sleep but others remained open.

Finally, Hermes told Argus the story of the god Pan. The tale was about how Pan loved a nymph named Syrinx who fled him. Just when Pan was about to come upon her, Syrinx's sisters turned her into a tuft of reeds. Pan declared that she would still be his. He then turned her (reeds) into a pipe fastened with beeswax. Argus found the story tiresome and all of his eyes went to sleep. As soon as he did, Hermes killed him. Hera took Argus' eyes and put them in the tail of her favorite bird, the peacock.

Io was then freed but Hera still hated her, so she sent a gadfly to sting her to madness. The part of the sea which Io ran along was called the Ionian. When she reached the Nile, Zeus was able to restore her to human form. There, she bore Zeus a son, Epaphus.

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