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Mercury About To Slay Argus Essay

873 words - 4 pages

Thordwaldsen was one of the most crucial neo-classical artists of his time. He worked for most of his life in Rome. Mercury, the son of Jupiter and Maia, was the emissary of the gods. He is usually represented with his winged sandals (teleria) and a winged cap (petasus). Here, Mercury assists Jupiter free his lover Lo, who was being watched by the monster Argus. Argus’s body was shielded with one thousand eyes, some of which were open at all times. Mercury told long uninterested story tales and played on his pipes until Argus went to sleep so deeply, that he closed all of his eyes Mercury slayed him, freeing Io. Zeus, a Greek god, was married to Hera; however, he fell in with Io. Zeus had ...view middle of the document...

In tribute to her trusted watchman Argus, Hera took his eyes of and set them on the tall of the peacock. This sculpture was created from the bible story with the beginning of how God created everything and how men destroyed everything because of jealousy, greed and power. In keeping with mythology Mercury is portrayed as a young man, although, fittingly enough for this subject, he’s not at all boyish, or, if he is, he’s on the cusp of manhood. There’s also a multitude of phallic symbols, especially the sword sheath positioned provocatively under Mercury right calf. His helmet, in conjunction with the overall vertical composition, gives his entire body a phallic quality, and then there’s that pan flute he’s holding in his left hand, having just pulled it away from his mouth. The most obvious non-symbol, of course, is covered-barely-by a sheet, but it’s obvious that, as soon as Mercury is in position to slay Argus he’ll be completed uncovered. He’ll be exposed in one way, but his sword, unsheathed, will then be buried in Argus. I chose this story because of its depth and tension, if Argus wakes up it’s potentially all over Mercury. Thorvaldsen doesn’t let us see Argus. All our attention is focused on Mercury and what he’s about to do and, given his beauty, it’s hard not to be his side, and yet there is something very contradictory here, something very...

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