Mercurius en Argus

Mercurius en Argus

canvas 45/33 cm.

The painting refers to the myth of Mercury, Argus (Argos) and Io, found in The Metamorphoses written by Ovid (I, 583 ; IX, 687) :

Jupiter (Zeus) falls in love with Io, who is the daughter of Inachos, as well as a priestess of Hera. But Jupiter’s wife Hera investigates and finds out about their relationship. Jupiter has to transform Io into a beautiful white heifer in order to save her from Hera’s wrath and in the meantime transforms himself into a bull. But Hera understands his strategy and demands the heifer as a present. To end their affair, Hera puts Io under the guard of Argus Panoptes, her shepherd, who has 100 eyes. Jupiter commands his son Mercury (Hermes) to set Io free by lulling Argus to sleep with an enchanted flute. Mercury, disguised as a shepherd with a herd of stolen sheep, is invited by Argus to his camp. Mercury charms him with lullabies and then cuts his head off.

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