Mercury, Argus and cow. For what killed the watchman?
Over the head of the sleeping old man the sword is brought. Still an instant - and … Against such serene landscape something awful will come true.
Young man, aged man and cow. In a hand of young - a pipe, on the head - a wide-brimmed hat.
What young is necessary from old? As if around, except a cow, anybody and nothing is present. Means, the purpose - to take away a cow.
The signature under a picture: “Mercury and Argus“. It appears, all this (depriving of a cow by means of killing of the watchman) becomes under the direct order of Zeus. And contrary to will of his wife Hera, scary jealous (and not without the reason).
Why for Zeus the cow was necessary? The matter is that Zeus tempted Hera`s priestess (a name with her, this priestess, - Io). And when Hera learned about it, she terribly was angry. Well, just flew into a rage. Zeus, trying to save the beloved, turned her into a cow (just that which in a picture). Hera, trying to prevent continuation of intimacy of Zeus with Io (cow), elicited it at Zeus. And that nobody appropriated it as an ownerless thing and took away to himself in a shed, Hera put to the watchman`s cow - Argusa.
Argus was multiocular and Panoptes got a nickname (all-seeing). He was very strong, but, probably, by this moment grew old. He tied a cow to a tree, and itself sat down under it.
And here Zeus`s envoy - Mercury appeared. Generally, Mercury (or on - Greek Hermes) is good god: god of deception, theft and eloquence, god of trade, profit, rationality, dexterity … He was even considered as the patron of gymnastics. But here by order of the father Zeus went for murder: the father told - it is necessary to do. And what to do? It is necessary to release the mistress from - under supervision of the wife, jealous Hera.
Mercury was come to the rescue by his ability to play on a pipe (a pipe in his left hand). It began to play on approach to the place where Argus sat down, and Argus dozed off. And Mercury approached it closer at this time, got a sword …
as a result Mercury took away a cow. But history on it does not come to an end. The embittered Hera sent to Io (cow) of a gadfly who did not allow a cow (Io) to live quietly. Running away from a gadfly, she visited all corners of Greece, then was transported to Asia and reached Egypt. In Egypt Zeus returned it its female shape again and started over again sticking, as a result she gave birth from Zeus to the son Epaf - the ancestor of heroes. And why it was necessary to kill unfortunate Argus? Intimacy was successfully continued, though with some delay. (The illustration to it is Korredzho`s picture “Floodlight and Io“, 1531. Floodlight - a name of Zeus in the Roman pantheon of gods.)
The death did not bring Argusu of rest. Mercury delivered his head to Hera. And this venerable goddess was so unmerciful, so cruel, I would tell, fanatically cruel that I took out his eyes at Argus (write that they were 100) and implanted them into eyes of a peacock tail (a peacock - Hera`s symbol).
And it is a woman, the goddess, as if the patroness of motherhood! Horror, and only!
Rubens`s pictures are painted with an interval in one year. Both of them are rather close to a literary basis. In the first option the tragic scene reminds pastoral more: Mercury just lulled Argus, took away a flute from lips and bares a sword. The second option of a picture is more dramatic: Mercury in a rush, a sword is brought, the blow will follow now. It is possible to tell that in a year Mercury passed from words to business and brought a sword (in early option it only took out it from a sheath).
A characteristic detail of clothes of Mercury - a hat with wide fields. Sometimes on it represent wings. Sometimes wings over the head of Mercury appear so, without hat.
About a cow nothing special can be told - a cow and a cow.
There is one more picture which it is necessary to mention. It “Hera and Argus“, Iacopo Amigoni`s picture. 18th century. Hermes brings to Hera the head of the killed Argus that it placed Argus`s eyes on a peacock tail. Hermes has wings over the head, it is easy to recognize him.
Hermes holds Argus`s head in hand, and Hera with own hand takes out to him eyes and inserts into the center of peacock feathers. Pay attention to expression of her face: this silent celebration, this pleasure the power!
Sometimes cruelty of modern crimes strikes, but roots - in these legends and myths. Remains a riddle: why artists drew all this? What in their souls was conformable to the events happening in faraway kingdoms, in the fairy states in immemorial times?