Eyes are universally seen as one of the most powerful and noteworthy aspects of the body, giving rise to fantastic eyes in myths worldwide. Greek mythology is filled with stories of incredible and powerful eyes; here are a few favourites.
The One Eyed Cyclops
Perhaps the best known eye in Greek mythology is the single eye of a cyclops. There are two generations of cyclopes in Greek mythology, the first group consisted of three brothers who worked as blacksmiths for the Olympian gods. The second generation descended from Poseidon, and they were known as ruthless shepherds living in Sicily. The most famous of the bunch was Polyphemus, who was featured in Homer’s The Odyssey. Interestingly, the walls of several ancient citie were said to have been built by Cyclopes. For this reason, the modern term cyclopean is used to describe walls built with large, unworked boulders.
Argus Panoptes the 100-Eyed Giant
The name “Panoptes” means all-seeing; with anywhere from four to 100 eyes depending on the myth, Argus Panoptes could see in every direction at once. The powerful goddess Hera commanded Argus to guard Io, a priestess-turned-cow. Argus was supposed to be an excellent watchman because he could see in all directions at once and also remain alert with some of his many eyes while other eyes slept.
The Graeae Sisters Lend an Eye
The Graeae sisters were three women who were so old that they had but one eye and one tooth left between the three of them. They would pass the eye and tooth around as needed. Perseus, the hero who would later kill Medusa, stole their single eye. As a ransom for its return, Perseus required the Graeae to give him information that was critical in his quest to kill Medusa.
Medusa’s Eyes Turn the Beholder to Stone
Medusa had two ordinary eyes at birth. When Athena transformed Medusa into a Gorgon, her hair was turned into snakes and her eyes were given the power to turn any who looked directly into them to stone. When Perseus went to kill Medusa he relied on a highly polished bronze shield known as the Aegis, lent to him by Athena. To avoid being turned to stone, Perseus looked at Medusa’s reflection in the shield while decapitating her. Though Medusa died that day, her eyes lived on in Greek mythology. Perseus used her head to turn the Kraken to stone, saving Andromeda’s life. Athena later asked Perseus for Medusa’s head, which she attached to the Aegis. This gave the shield the power of Medusa’s eyes, turning enemies to stone when they looked at the Aegis.
Do you have eyes worthy of Greek myths? Show them off! Come in for a free LASIK consultation to see if you can get out of your glasses or contacts.