Sunday, August 12, 2007

August Index AND The Argus Myth

Aug. 12 --- The Argus Observes: The Argus Myth
Don Lynch column lays out the Greek myth.
Aug. 5 --- To Beat Vale --- Or Not!
Larry Lynch’s essay on local sports during the 1950s.

The Argus Myth

From The Argus Observes column by Don Lynch, which appeared Sept. 11, 1952 (Lynch is pictured, circa 1954, at left):

Symbolic words or names have often been used in naming newspapers. This practice may have arisen partly from the desire of the editor to feed his ego by lending the paper and air of importance through association with a fancy monicker, and partly simply from a desire to have a name slightly different than “news,” “press” or “journal.”

Argus is one such symbolic name. The Argus of Greek mythology was a giant with one hundred eyes. This general characterization is appropriate in a sense for the newspaper does broaden the perception of its readers by literally reporting one hundred times as much information as the individual could observe by himself.

However the name Argus has its shortcomings as a symbolic title. The Greek Argus failed on the one assignment that made him famous in mythology. The story goes like this:

Juno, wife of Jupiter and queen of the Gods, noticed it growing dark one day and promptly suspected that her husband had raised a cloud to hide his actions that would not bear scrutiny. She brushed away the cloud and saw her husband on the banks of a river with a beautiful heifer standing beside him.

Juno suspected the heifer’s form concealed the person of some beautiful girl. She was right. The girl was Io, daughter of the river god Inachus, with whom Jupiter had been flirting. When he became aware of the approach of his wife, Jupiter had changed the girl into the form of an animal. . . .

(But) Juno had not been relieved of her suspicious. So she delivered the heifer to Argus and engaged him to keep a strict watch on the animal.

The giant Argus never slept with more than two of his eyes closed at any one time. He kept a constant watch on Io. He permitted her to feed during the day and tied her up with an uncomfortable rope at night . . . .

Jupiter was distressed at the suffering of his mistress, and he called Mercury to go and get rid of Argus. Mercury found the job difficult. He regaled Argus with choice stories and played on a shepherd’s pipe, all to no avail.

Finally he told Argus a long yarn about how the Syinx, the instrument he played, had been invented. Before the story was completed, all one hundred of Argus’ eyes were sound asleep. Mercury cut the giant’s neck.

As a memorial to Argus, Juno took his eyes and set them in the tail of the peacock, her favorite bird. (Then) she sent a gadfly to torment Io who fled over the whole earth from its pursuit (until) Jupiter intervened for her, promising to pay no more attention to her and Juno returned the unfortunate girl to normal human form so that she was re-united with her family.

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