ARGO: The Name, The Myth



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 navigation media;
  • Argus  (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