Hermes

Hermes

Overview
Hermes is the great messenger of the gods in Greek mythology
Greek mythology
Greek mythology is the body of myths and legends belonging to the ancient Greeks, concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world, and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. They were a part of religion in ancient Greece...

 and a guide to the Underworld
Psychopomp
Psychopomps are creatures, spirits, angels, or deities in many religions whose responsibility is to escort newly deceased souls to the afterlife. Their role is not to judge the deceased, but simply provide safe passage...

. Hermes was born on Mount Kyllini
Mount Kyllini
Mount Kyllini or Mount Cyllene , is a mountain on the Peloponnesus peninsula in Greece, famous for its association with the god Hermes. It rises to above sea level, making it the second highest point on the peninsula. It is located near the border between the historic regions of Arcadia and...

 in Arcadia. An Olympian god
Twelve Olympians
The Twelve Olympians, also known as the Dodekatheon , in Greek mythology, were the principal deities of the Greek pantheon, residing atop Mount Olympus. Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Hestia, and Hades were siblings. Ares, Hermes, Hephaestus, Athena, Apollo, and Artemis were children of Zeus...

, he is also the patron of boundaries and of the travelers who cross them, of shepherd
Shepherd
A shepherd is a person who tends, feeds or guards flocks of sheep.- Origins :Shepherding is one of the oldest occupations, beginning some 6,000 years ago in Asia Minor. Sheep were kept for their milk, meat and especially their wool...

s and cowherds
Pastoralism
Pastoralism or pastoral farming is the branch of agriculture concerned with the raising of livestock. It is animal husbandry: the care, tending and use of animals such as camels, goats, cattle, yaks, llamas, and sheep. It may have a mobile aspect, moving the herds in search of fresh pasture and...

, of the cunning of thieves, of orators and wit, of literature and poets, of athletics and sports, of weights and measures, of invention, and of commerce in general. His symbols include the tortoise, the rooster, the winged sandals, the winged hat, and the caduceus
Caduceus
The caduceus is the staff carried by Hermes in Greek mythology. The same staff was also borne by heralds in general, for example by Iris, the messenger of Hera. It is a short staff entwined by two serpents, sometimes surmounted by wings...

.
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Hermes is the great messenger of the gods in Greek mythology
Greek mythology
Greek mythology is the body of myths and legends belonging to the ancient Greeks, concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world, and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. They were a part of religion in ancient Greece...

 and a guide to the Underworld
Psychopomp
Psychopomps are creatures, spirits, angels, or deities in many religions whose responsibility is to escort newly deceased souls to the afterlife. Their role is not to judge the deceased, but simply provide safe passage...

. Hermes was born on Mount Kyllini
Mount Kyllini
Mount Kyllini or Mount Cyllene , is a mountain on the Peloponnesus peninsula in Greece, famous for its association with the god Hermes. It rises to above sea level, making it the second highest point on the peninsula. It is located near the border between the historic regions of Arcadia and...

 in Arcadia. An Olympian god
Twelve Olympians
The Twelve Olympians, also known as the Dodekatheon , in Greek mythology, were the principal deities of the Greek pantheon, residing atop Mount Olympus. Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Hestia, and Hades were siblings. Ares, Hermes, Hephaestus, Athena, Apollo, and Artemis were children of Zeus...

, he is also the patron of boundaries and of the travelers who cross them, of shepherd
Shepherd
A shepherd is a person who tends, feeds or guards flocks of sheep.- Origins :Shepherding is one of the oldest occupations, beginning some 6,000 years ago in Asia Minor. Sheep were kept for their milk, meat and especially their wool...

s and cowherds
Pastoralism
Pastoralism or pastoral farming is the branch of agriculture concerned with the raising of livestock. It is animal husbandry: the care, tending and use of animals such as camels, goats, cattle, yaks, llamas, and sheep. It may have a mobile aspect, moving the herds in search of fresh pasture and...

, of the cunning of thieves, of orators and wit, of literature and poets, of athletics and sports, of weights and measures, of invention, and of commerce in general. His symbols include the tortoise, the rooster, the winged sandals, the winged hat, and the caduceus
Caduceus
The caduceus is the staff carried by Hermes in Greek mythology. The same staff was also borne by heralds in general, for example by Iris, the messenger of Hera. It is a short staff entwined by two serpents, sometimes surmounted by wings...

.
In the Roman adaptation of the Greek religion (see interpretatio romana
Interpretatio graeca
Interpretatio graeca is a Latin term for the common tendency of ancient Greek writers to equate foreign divinities to members of their own pantheon. Herodotus, for example, refers to the ancient Egyptian gods Amon, Osiris and Ptah as "Zeus", "Dionysus" and "Hephaestus", respectively.-Roman...

), Hermes was identified with the Roman god Mercury
Mercury (mythology)
Mercury was a messenger who wore winged sandals, and a god of trade, the son of Maia Maiestas and Jupiter in Roman mythology. His name is related to the Latin word merx , mercari , and merces...

, who, though inherited from the Etruscans, developed many similar characteristics, such as being the patron of commerce.
The Homeric hymn to Hermes invokes him as the one "of many shifts (polytropos), blandly cunning, a robber, a cattle driver, a bringer of dreams, a watcher by night, a thief at the gates, one who was soon to show forth wonderful deeds among the deathless gods."

He protects and takes care of all the travelers, miscreants, harlots, old crone
Crone
The crone is a stock character in folklore and fairy tale, an old woman who is usually disagreeable, malicious, or sinister in manner, often with magical or supernatural associations that can make her either helpful or obstructing. She is marginalized by her exclusion from the reproductive cycle,...

s and thieves that pray to him or cross his path. He is athletic and is always looking out for runners, or any athletes with injuries who need his help.
Hermes is a messenger from the gods to humans, sharing this role with Iris
Iris (mythology)
In Greek mythology, Iris is the personification of the rainbow and messenger of the gods. As the sun unites Earth and heaven, Iris links the gods to humanity...

. An interpreter who bridges the boundaries with strangers is a hermeneus. Hermes' name is the root of the word "hermeneutics", the study and theory of interpretation. In Greek a lucky find was a hermaion. Hermes delivered messages from Olympus to the mortal world. He wears shoes with wings on them and uses them to fly freely between the mortal and immortal world. Hermes was the second youngest of the Olympian gods, being born before Dionysus
Dionysus
Dionysus was the god of the grape harvest, winemaking and wine, of ritual madness and ecstasy in Greek mythology. His name in Linear B tablets shows he was worshipped from c. 1500—1100 BC by Mycenean Greeks: other traces of Dionysian-type cult have been found in ancient Minoan Crete...

.
Hermes, as an inventor of fire, is a parallel of the Titan
Titan (mythology)
In Greek mythology, the Titans were a race of powerful deities, descendants of Gaia and Uranus, that ruled during the legendary Golden Age....

, Prometheus
Prometheus
In Greek mythology, Prometheus is a Titan, the son of Iapetus and Themis, and brother to Atlas, Epimetheus and Menoetius. He was a champion of mankind, known for his wily intelligence, who stole fire from Zeus and gave it to mortals...

. In addition to the lyre
Lyre
The lyre is a stringed musical instrument known for its use in Greek classical antiquity and later. The word comes from the Greek "λύρα" and the earliest reference to the word is the Mycenaean Greek ru-ra-ta-e, meaning "lyrists", written in Linear B syllabic script...

, Hermes was believed to have invented many types of racing and the sports of wrestling and boxing, and therefore was a patron of athletes.

According to prominent folklorist Yeleazar Meletinsky
Yeleazar Meletinsky
Professor Eleazar Moiseevich Meletinskii was a Russian scholar famous for his seminal studies folklore, literature, philology and the history and theory of narrative; he was one of the major figures of Russian academia in those fields.He was Director of the...

, Hermes is a deified trickster
Trickster
In mythology, and in the study of folklore and religion, a trickster is a god, goddess, spirit, man, woman, or anthropomorphic animal who plays tricks or otherwise disobeys normal rules and conventional behavior. It is suggested by Hansen that the term "Trickster" was probably first used in this...

.
Hermes also served as a psychopomp
Psychopomp
Psychopomps are creatures, spirits, angels, or deities in many religions whose responsibility is to escort newly deceased souls to the afterlife. Their role is not to judge the deceased, but simply provide safe passage...

, or an escort for the dead to help them find their way to the afterlife
Afterlife
The afterlife is the belief that a part of, or essence of, or soul of an individual, which carries with it and confers personal identity, survives the death of the body of this world and this lifetime, by natural or supernatural means, in contrast to the belief in eternal...

 (the Underworld
Underworld
The Underworld is a region which is thought to be under the surface of the earth in some religions and in mythologies. It could be a place where the souls of the recently departed go, and in some traditions it is identified with Hell or the realm of death...

 in the Greek myths). In many Greek myths, Hermes was depicted as the only god besides Hades
Hades
Hades , Hadēs, originally , Haidēs or , Aidēs , meaning "the unseen") was the ancient Greek god of the underworld. The genitive , Haidou, was an elision to denote locality: "[the house/dominion] of Hades". Eventually, the nominative came to designate the abode of the dead.In Greek mythology, Hades...

, Persephone
Persephone
In Greek mythology, Persephone , also called Kore , is the daughter of Zeus and the harvest-goddess Demeter, and queen of the underworld; she was abducted by Hades, the god-king of the underworld....

, Hecate
Hecate
Hecate or Hekate is a chthonic Greco-Roman goddess associated with magic, witchcraft, necromancy, and crossroads.She is attested in poetry as early as Hesiod's Theogony...

, and Thanatos
Thanatos
In Greek mythology, Thanatos was the daemon personification of death. He was a minor figure in Greek mythology, often referred to but rarely appearing in person...

 who could enter and leave the Underworld without hindrance.
Hermes often helped travelers have a safe and easy journey. Many Greeks would sacrifice to Hermes before any trip.
In the fully developed Olympian pantheon, Hermes was the son of Zeus
Zeus
In the ancient Greek religion, Zeus was the "Father of Gods and men" who ruled the Olympians of Mount Olympus as a father ruled the family. He was the god of sky and thunder in Greek mythology. His Roman counterpart is Jupiter and his Etruscan counterpart is Tinia.Zeus was the child of Cronus...

 and the Pleiade
Pleiades (Greek mythology)
The Pleiades , companions of Artemis, were the seven daughters of the titan Atlas and the sea-nymph Pleione born on Mount Cyllene. They are the sisters of Calypso, Hyas, the Hyades, and the Hesperides...

 Maia
Maia (mythology)
In Greek mythology, Maia is one of the Pleiades and the mother of Hermes. The goddess known as Maia among the Romans may have originated independently, but attracted the myths of Greek Maia because the two figures shared the same name.-Birth:...

, a daughter of the Titan Atlas
Atlas (mythology)
In Greek mythology, Atlas was the primordial Titan who supported the heavens. Although associated with various places, he became commonly identified with the Atlas Mountains in north-west Africa...

. Hermes' symbols were the rooster
Rooster
A rooster, also known as a cockerel, cock or chanticleer, is a male chicken with the female being called a hen. Immature male chickens of less than a year's age are called cockerels...

 and the tortoise
Tortoise
Tortoises are a family of land-dwelling reptiles of the order of turtles . Like their marine cousins, the sea turtles, tortoises are shielded from predators by a shell. The top part of the shell is the carapace, the underside is the plastron, and the two are connected by the bridge. The tortoise...

, and he can be recognized by his purse or pouch, winged sandals
Talaria
Talaria are winged sandals, a symbol of the Greek Messenger God Hermes . They were said to be made by the god Hephaestus of imperishable gold and they flew the god as swift as any bird...

, winged cap, and the herald's staff, the kerykeion. The night he was born he slipped away from Maia and stole his elder brother Apollo
Apollo
Apollo is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in Greek and Roman mythology...

's cattle.

Etymology


The earliest form of the name Hermes is the Mycenaean Greek e-ma-a2 , written in Linear B
Linear B
Linear B is a syllabic script that was used for writing Mycenaean Greek, an early form of Greek. It pre-dated the Greek alphabet by several centuries and seems to have died out with the fall of Mycenaean civilization...

 syllabic script. However the identification of the name is unclear, and its etymology is controversial. Some claim it is simply unknown, or not of Greek origin. It may have derived from Hermeneus, which means the interpreter. Plato
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

, giving voice to Socrates
Socrates
Socrates was a classical Greek Athenian philosopher. Credited as one of the founders of Western philosophy, he is an enigmatic figure known chiefly through the accounts of later classical writers, especially the writings of his students Plato and Xenophon, and the plays of his contemporary ...

, tried to establish an origin of the name, saying that Hermes was tied to speech, interpretation and transmission of messages, all activities connected to the power of speech (eirei), and that in course of time eirein was embellished and turned into Hermes. The most common idea is that it was derived from herm
Herma
A Herma, commonly in English herm is a sculpture with a head, and perhaps a torso, above a plain, usually squared lower section, on which male genitals may also be carved at the appropriate height...

, a sacred boundary-marker or road-altar, dedicated to Hermes since ancient times. Nilsson and Guthrie believe it means "one Cairn," a primitive form of Hermes, but this source is also disputed.Hermes is so cool he is rocking awesome

Cult and mythology


The origin of Hermes is uncertain. Some consider him a native god that was worshiped since the Neolithic era, while others suggests that he was an Asian import, perhaps via Cyprus
Cyprus
Cyprus , officially the Republic of Cyprus , is a Eurasian island country, member of the European Union, in the Eastern Mediterranean, east of Greece, south of Turkey, west of Syria and north of Egypt. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.The earliest known human activity on the...

 or Cilicia
Cilicia
In antiquity, Cilicia was the south coastal region of Asia Minor, south of the central Anatolian plateau. It existed as a political entity from Hittite times into the Byzantine empire...

 well before the beginning of written records in Greece. What is certain is that his cult was established in Greece in remote regions, likely making him a god of nature, farmers and shepherds. It is also possible that since the beginning he has been a deity with shamanic attributes linked to divination
Divination
Divination is the attempt to gain insight into a question or situation by way of an occultic standardized process or ritual...

, reconciliation
Reconciliation (theology)
Reconciliation, a theological term, is an element of salvation that refers to the results of atonement. Reconciliation as a theological concept describes the end of the estrangement, caused by sin, between God and humanity. John Calvin describes reconciliation as the peace between humanity and...

, magic
Magic (paranormal)
Magic is the claimed art of manipulating aspects of reality either by supernatural means or through knowledge of occult laws unknown to science. It is in contrast to science, in that science does not accept anything not subject to either direct or indirect observation, and subject to logical...

, sacrifice
Sacrifice
Sacrifice is the offering of food, objects or the lives of animals or people to God or the gods as an act of propitiation or worship.While sacrifice often implies ritual killing, the term offering can be used for bloodless sacrifices of cereal food or artifacts...

s, and initiation
Initiation
Initiation is a rite of passage ceremony marking entrance or acceptance into a group or society. It could also be a formal admission to adulthood in a community or one of its formal components...

 and contact with other planes of existence, a role of mediator between the visible and invisible worlds. Among the functions most commonly linked to him in Greek literature are messenger of the gods, and god of language
Language
Language may refer either to the specifically human capacity for acquiring and using complex systems of communication, or to a specific instance of such a system of complex communication...

, speech
Speech
Speech is the human faculty of speaking.It may also refer to:* Public speaking, the process of speaking to a group of people* Manner of articulation, how the body parts involved in making speech are manipulated...

, metaphors, prudence
Prudence
Prudence is the ability to govern and discipline oneself by the use of reason. It is classically considered to be a virtue, and in particular one of the four Cardinal virtues .The word comes from Old French prudence , from Latin...

 and circumspection, as well as intrigues and covert reasons, fraud
Fraud
In criminal law, a fraud is an intentional deception made for personal gain or to damage another individual; the related adjective is fraudulent. The specific legal definition varies by legal jurisdiction. Fraud is a crime, and also a civil law violation...

 and perjury
Perjury
Perjury, also known as forswearing, is the willful act of swearing a false oath or affirmation to tell the truth, whether spoken or in writing, concerning matters material to a judicial proceeding. That is, the witness falsely promises to tell the truth about matters which affect the outcome of the...

, wit and ambiguity
Ambiguity
Ambiguity of words or phrases is the ability to express more than one interpretation. It is distinct from vagueness, which is a statement about the lack of precision contained or available in the information.Context may play a role in resolving ambiguity...

. Thus he was a patron of speakers, heralds, ambassadors and diplomats, messengers and thieves. He was believed to have invented fire, the lyre, the syrinx, the alphabet, the numbers, to astronomy, a special form of music, the arts of fighting, the gym and the cultivation of olive trees, the measures, the weights and various other things.

Due to his constant mobility, he was considered the god of commerce
Commerce
While business refers to the value-creating activities of an organization for profit, commerce means the whole system of an economy that constitutes an environment for business. The system includes legal, economic, political, social, cultural, and technological systems that are in operation in any...

 and social intercourse, the wealth brought in business, especially sudden or unexpected enrichment, travel, roads and crossroads, borders and boundary conditions or transient, the changes from the threshold, agreements and contracts, friendship, hospitality, sexual intercourse
Sexual intercourse
Sexual intercourse, also known as copulation or coitus, commonly refers to the act in which a male's penis enters a female's vagina for the purposes of sexual pleasure or reproduction. The entities may be of opposite sexes, or they may be hermaphroditic, as is the case with snails...

, games, data, the draw, good luck, the sacrifices and the sacrificial animals, flocks and shepherds and the fertility of land and cattle. In addition to serving as messenger to Zeus
Zeus
In the ancient Greek religion, Zeus was the "Father of Gods and men" who ruled the Olympians of Mount Olympus as a father ruled the family. He was the god of sky and thunder in Greek mythology. His Roman counterpart is Jupiter and his Etruscan counterpart is Tinia.Zeus was the child of Cronus...

, Hermes carried the souls of the dead to Hades
Hades
Hades , Hadēs, originally , Haidēs or , Aidēs , meaning "the unseen") was the ancient Greek god of the underworld. The genitive , Haidou, was an elision to denote locality: "[the house/dominion] of Hades". Eventually, the nominative came to designate the abode of the dead.In Greek mythology, Hades...

, and directed the dreams sent by Zeus to mortals.

Early Greek sources


The first descriptions of the myth of Hermes date from the Archaic period of Ancient Greece. One of the most important myths appears in the Homeric Hymn to Hermes, dating to the seventh or sixth centuries BC and deals with his birth and early exploits. The hymn opens with a salutation to the god, calling him the lord of Mount Kyllini
Mount Kyllini
Mount Kyllini or Mount Cyllene , is a mountain on the Peloponnesus peninsula in Greece, famous for its association with the god Hermes. It rises to above sea level, making it the second highest point on the peninsula. It is located near the border between the historic regions of Arcadia and...

 and Arcadia
Arcadia
Arcadia is one of the regional units of Greece. It is part of the administrative region of Peloponnese. It is situated in the central and eastern part of the Peloponnese peninsula. It takes its name from the mythological character Arcas. In Greek mythology, it was the home of the god Pan...

, the flocks of sheep, and messenger of the gods. It also names him as the son of Zeus
Zeus
In the ancient Greek religion, Zeus was the "Father of Gods and men" who ruled the Olympians of Mount Olympus as a father ruled the family. He was the god of sky and thunder in Greek mythology. His Roman counterpart is Jupiter and his Etruscan counterpart is Tinia.Zeus was the child of Cronus...

, the result of his adulterous love with Maia
Maia (mythology)
In Greek mythology, Maia is one of the Pleiades and the mother of Hermes. The goddess known as Maia among the Romans may have originated independently, but attracted the myths of Greek Maia because the two figures shared the same name.-Birth:...

, a nymph
Nymph
A nymph in Greek mythology is a female minor nature deity typically associated with a particular location or landform. Different from gods, nymphs are generally regarded as divine spirits who animate nature, and are usually depicted as beautiful, young nubile maidens who love to dance and sing;...

 daughter of Atlas
Atlas
An atlas is a collection of maps; it is typically a map of Earth or a region of Earth, but there are atlases of the other planets in the Solar System. Atlases have traditionally been bound into book form, but today many atlases are in multimedia formats...

 and Pleione
Pleione (mythology)
Pleione was an Oceanid nymph. She lived in a southern region of Greece called Arcadia, on a mountain named Mount Kyllini. She married Atlas and gave birth to the Hyades, Hyas and the Pleiades.-The Pleiades:...

. Living in a cave, hidden from human eyes and particularly the notoriously stormy and jealous Hera
Hera
Hera was the wife and one of three sisters of Zeus in the Olympian pantheon of Greek mythology and religion. Her chief function was as the goddess of women and marriage. Her counterpart in the religion of ancient Rome was Juno. The cow and the peacock were sacred to her...

, Zeus' wife and sister, Maia gave birth to "this ingenious child, this clever deception planner, tracker and capturer of cattle, a shepherd of dreams, this citizen of the night lurking in doorways." The infant Hermes was precocious. His first day he invented the lyre
Lyre
The lyre is a stringed musical instrument known for its use in Greek classical antiquity and later. The word comes from the Greek "λύρα" and the earliest reference to the word is the Mycenaean Greek ru-ra-ta-e, meaning "lyrists", written in Linear B syllabic script...

. By nightfall, he had rustled the immortal cattle of Apollo
Apollo
Apollo is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in Greek and Roman mythology...

. For the first sacrifice, the taboos surrounding the sacred kine of Apollo had to be transgressed, and the trickster god of boundaries was the one to do it. Hermes drove the cattle back to Greece and hid them, walking them backwards so that their tracks seemed to be going in the wrong direction. When Apollo accused Hermes, Maia said that it could not be him because he was with her the whole night. However, Zeus entered the argument and said that Hermes did steal the cattle and they should be returned. While arguing with Apollo, Hermes began to play his lyre
Lyre
The lyre is a stringed musical instrument known for its use in Greek classical antiquity and later. The word comes from the Greek "λύρα" and the earliest reference to the word is the Mycenaean Greek ru-ra-ta-e, meaning "lyrists", written in Linear B syllabic script...

. The instrument enchanted Apollo and he agreed to let Hermes keep the cattle in exchange for the lyre.

Homer
Homer
In the Western classical tradition Homer , is the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and is revered as the greatest ancient Greek epic poet. These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature.When he lived is...

 and Hesiod
Hesiod
Hesiod was a Greek oral poet generally thought by scholars to have been active between 750 and 650 BC, around the same time as Homer. His is the first European poetry in which the poet regards himself as a topic, an individual with a distinctive role to play. Ancient authors credited him and...

 portrayed Hermes as the author of skilled or deceptive acts, and also as a benefactor of mortals. In the Iliad
Iliad
The Iliad is an epic poem in dactylic hexameters, traditionally attributed to Homer. Set during the Trojan War, the ten-year siege of the city of Troy by a coalition of Greek states, it tells of the battles and events during the weeks of a quarrel between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles...

 he was called "the bringer of good luck," "guide and guardian" and "excellent in all the tricks." He was a divine ally of the Greeks against the Trojans. However, he did protect Priam
Priam
Priam was the king of Troy during the Trojan War and youngest son of Laomedon. Modern scholars derive his name from the Luwian compound Priimuua, which means "exceptionally courageous".- Marriage and issue :...

 when he went to the Greek camp to retrieve the body of his son Hector
Hector
In Greek mythology, Hectōr , or Hektōr, is a Trojan prince and the greatest fighter for Troy in the Trojan War. As the first-born son of King Priam and Queen Hecuba, a descendant of Dardanus, who lived under Mount Ida, and of Tros, the founder of Troy, he was a prince of the royal house and the...

. When Priam got it, Hermes took them back to Troy. He also rescued Ares
Ares
Ares is the Greek god of war. He is one of the Twelve Olympians, and the son of Zeus and Hera. In Greek literature, he often represents the physical or violent aspect of war, in contrast to the armored Athena, whose functions as a goddess of intelligence include military strategy and...

 from a brazen vessel where he had been imprisoned by Otus and Ephialtes
Aloadae
In Greek mythology, the Aloadae were Otus and Ephialtes , sons of Iphimedia, queen of Aloeus, by Poseidon, whom she induced to make her pregnant by going to the seashore and disporting herself in the surf or scooping seawater into her bosom. From Aloeus they received their patronymic, the Aloadai...

. In the Odyssey
Odyssey
The Odyssey is one of two major ancient Greek epic poems attributed to Homer. It is, in part, a sequel to the Iliad, the other work ascribed to Homer. The poem is fundamental to the modern Western canon, and is the second—the Iliad being the first—extant work of Western literature...

 he helped the protagonist, Odysseus
Odysseus
Odysseus or Ulysses was a legendary Greek king of Ithaca and the hero of Homer's epic poem the Odyssey. Odysseus also plays a key role in Homer's Iliad and other works in the Epic Cycle....

, informing him about the fate of his companions, who were turned into animals by the power of Circe
Circe
In Greek mythology, Circe is a minor goddess of magic , described in Homer's Odyssey as "The loveliest of all immortals", living on the island of Aeaea, famous for her part in the adventures of Odysseus.By most accounts, Circe was the daughter of Helios, the god of the sun, and Perse, an Oceanid...

, and instructed him to protect himself by chewing a magic herb
Moly (herb)
Moly is a magic herb mentioned in book 10 of Homer's Odyssey.In the story, Hermes gave this herb to Odysseus to protect him from Circe's magic when he went to her home to rescue his friends. These friends came together with him from the island Aiolos after they escaped from the Cyclops...

; he also told Calipso
Calypso (mythology)
Calypso was a nymph in Greek mythology, who lived on the island of Ogygia, where she detained Odysseus for a number of years. She is generally said to be the daughter of the Titan Atlas....

 Zeus' order for her to free the same hero from her island to continue his journey back home. When Odysseus killed the suitors of his wife, Hermes lead their souls to Hades. In The Works and Days, when Zeus ordered Hephaestus
Hephaestus
Hephaestus was a Greek god whose Roman equivalent was Vulcan. He is the son of Zeus and Hera, the King and Queen of the Gods - or else, according to some accounts, of Hera alone. He was the god of technology, blacksmiths, craftsmen, artisans, sculptors, metals, metallurgy, fire and volcanoes...

 to create Pandora
Pandora
In Greek mythology, Pandora was the first woman. As Hesiod related it, each god helped create her by giving her unique gifts...

 to disgrace humanity by punishing the act of Prometheus giving fire to man, every god gave her a gift, and Hermes’ gift was lies and seductive words, and a dubious character. Then he was instructed to take her as wife to Epimetheus
Epimetheus (mythology)
In Greek mythology, Epimetheus was the brother of Prometheus , a pair of Titans who "acted as representatives of mankind" . They were the inseparable sons of Iapetus, who in other contexts was the father of Atlas...

.

There are plenty of other myths featuring Hermes. Aeschylus
Aeschylus
Aeschylus was the first of the three ancient Greek tragedians whose work has survived, the others being Sophocles and Euripides, and is often described as the father of tragedy. His name derives from the Greek word aiskhos , meaning "shame"...

 wrote that Hermes helped Orestes
Orestes
Orestes was the son of Agamemnon in Greek mythology; Orestes may also refer to:Drama*Orestes , by Euripides*Orestes, the character in Sophocles' tragedy Electra*Orestes, the character in Aeschylus' trilogy of tragedies, Oresteia...

  kill Clytemnestra
Clytemnestra
Clytemnestra or Clytaemnestra , in ancient Greek legend, was the wife of Agamemnon, king of the Ancient Greek kingdom of Mycenae or Argos. In the Oresteia by Aeschylus, she was a femme fatale who murdered her husband, Agamemnon – said by Euripides to be her second husband – and the Trojan princess...

 under a false identity and other stratagems, and also said that he was the god of searches, and those who seek things lost or stolen. Sophocles
Sophocles
Sophocles is one of three ancient Greek tragedians whose plays have survived. His first plays were written later than those of Aeschylus, and earlier than or contemporary with those of Euripides...

 wrote that Odysseus invoked him when he needed to convince Philoctetes
Philoctetes
Philoctetes or Philocthetes according to Greek mythology, the son of King Poeas of Meliboea in Thessaly. He was a Greek hero, famed as an archer, and was a participant in the Trojan War. He was the subject of at least two plays by Sophocles, one of which is named after him, and one each by both...

 to join the Trojan War
Trojan War
In Greek mythology, the Trojan War was waged against the city of Troy by the Achaeans after Paris of Troy took Helen from her husband Menelaus, the king of Sparta. The war is among the most important events in Greek mythology and was narrated in many works of Greek literature, including the Iliad...

 on the side of the Greeks, and Euripides did appear to help in spy Dolon Greek navy. Aesop
Aesop
Aesop was a Greek writer credited with a number of popular fables. Older spellings of his name have included Esop and Isope. Although his existence remains uncertain and no writings by him survive, numerous tales credited to him were gathered across the centuries and in many languages in a...

, who allegedly had literary received his talents from Hermes, put him in several of its fables, as ruler of the gate of prophetic dreams, as the god of athletes, edible roots, hospitality. He also said that Hermes had assigned each person his share of intelligence. Pindar and Aristophanes also document his recent association with the gym, which did not exist at the time of Homer.

Hellenistic Greek sources


Several writers of the Hellenistic period
Hellenistic period
The Hellenistic period or Hellenistic era describes the time which followed the conquests of Alexander the Great. It was so named by the historian J. G. Droysen. During this time, Greek cultural influence and power was at its zenith in Europe and Asia...

 expanded the list of Hermes’ achievements. Callimachus
Callimachus
Callimachus was a native of the Greek colony of Cyrene, Libya. He was a noted poet, critic and scholar at the Library of Alexandria and enjoyed the patronage of the Egyptian–Greek Pharaohs Ptolemy II Philadelphus and Ptolemy III Euergetes...

 said he disguised himself as a cyclops
Cyclops
A cyclops , in Greek mythology and later Roman mythology, was a member of a primordial race of giants, each with a single eye in the middle of his forehead...

 to scare the Oceanid
Oceanid
In Greek mythology and, later, Roman mythology, the Oceanids were the three thousand daughters of the Titans Oceanus and Tethys. Each was the patroness of a particular spring, river, sea, lake, pond, pasture, flower or cloud...

es and was disobedient to his mother. One of the Orphic Hymns Khthonios is dedicated to Hermes, indicating that he was also a god of the underworld. Aeschylus had called him by this epithet several times. Another is the Orphic Hymn to Hermes, where his association with the athletic games held in tone is mystic. Phlegon of Tralles
Phlegon of Tralles
Phlegon of Tralles was a Greek writer and freedman of the emperor Hadrian, who lived in the 2nd century AD.His chief work was the Olympiads, an historical compendium in sixteen books, from the 1st down to the 229th Olympiad , of which several chapters are preserved in Eusebius' Chronicle, Photius...

 said he was invoked to ward off ghosts, and Pseudo-Apollodorus reported several events involving Hermes. He participated in the Gigantomachy
Gigantomachy
In Greek mythology, Gigantomachy was the symbolic struggle between the cosmic order of the Olympians led by Zeus and the nether forces of Chaos led by the giant Alcyoneus...

 in defense of Olympus; was given the task of bringing baby Dionysus
Dionysus
Dionysus was the god of the grape harvest, winemaking and wine, of ritual madness and ecstasy in Greek mythology. His name in Linear B tablets shows he was worshipped from c. 1500—1100 BC by Mycenean Greeks: other traces of Dionysian-type cult have been found in ancient Minoan Crete...

 to be cared for by Ino and Athamas and later by nymphs of Asia, followed Hera
Hera
Hera was the wife and one of three sisters of Zeus in the Olympian pantheon of Greek mythology and religion. Her chief function was as the goddess of women and marriage. Her counterpart in the religion of ancient Rome was Juno. The cow and the peacock were sacred to her...

, Athena
Athena
In Greek mythology, Athena, Athenê, or Athene , also referred to as Pallas Athena/Athene , is the goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, civilization, warfare, strength, strategy, the arts, crafts, justice, and skill. Minerva, Athena's Roman incarnation, embodies similar attributes. Athena is...

 and Aphrodite
Aphrodite
Aphrodite is the Greek goddess of love, beauty, pleasure, and procreation.Her Roman equivalent is the goddess .Historically, her cult in Greece was imported from, or influenced by, the cult of Astarte in Phoenicia....

 in a beauty contest; favored the young Hercules by giving him a sword when he finished his education and lent his sandals to Perseus
Perseus
Perseus ,Perseos and Perseas are not used in English. the legendary founder of Mycenae and of the Perseid dynasty of Danaans there, was the first of the mythic heroes of Greek mythology whose exploits in defeating various archaic monsters provided the founding myths of the Twelve Olympians...

. The Thracian princes identified him with their god Zalmoxis
Zalmoxis
Zalmoxis , is a divinity of the Getae, mentioned by Herodotus in his Histories IV, 93-96...

, considering his ancestor.

Throughout the Hellenistic period, Hermes acquired a particularly important status as an image of Logos
Logos
' is an important term in philosophy, psychology, rhetoric and religion. Originally a word meaning "a ground", "a plea", "an opinion", "an expectation", "word," "speech," "account," "reason," it became a technical term in philosophy, beginning with Heraclitus ' is an important term in...

 and interpreter of the divine will, and went from being a mere expressive character to acting creatively, taking on roles of demiurge, a change which is mainly attributed to the Stoic
STOIC
STOIC was a variant of Forth.It started out at the MIT and Harvard Biomedical Engineering Centre in Boston, and was written in the mid 1970s by Jonathan Sachs...

s, Gnostics and Neoplatonists. Apparently, this time began the merger of Hermes with the Egyptian god Thoth
Thoth
Thoth was considered one of the more important deities of the Egyptian pantheon. In art, he was often depicted as a man with the head of an ibis or a baboon, animals sacred to him. His feminine counterpart was Seshat...

, who flourished as the figure of Hermes Trismegistus.

Kriophoros



Hermes Kriophoros, Hermes, lamb-bearer appears both early and later. His ram connection appears in the earliest Mycenaean Linear B
Linear B
Linear B is a syllabic script that was used for writing Mycenaean Greek, an early form of Greek. It pre-dated the Greek alphabet by several centuries and seems to have died out with the fall of Mycenaean civilization...

 inscription bearing his name. Pausanias
Pausanias (geographer)
Pausanias was a Greek traveler and geographer of the 2nd century AD, who lived in the times of Hadrian, Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius. He is famous for his Description of Greece , a lengthy work that describes ancient Greece from firsthand observations, and is a crucial link between classical...

 reports the lamb-carrying rites still being performed at the Boeotia
Boeotia
Boeotia, also spelled Beotia and Bœotia , is one of the regional units of Greece. It is part of the region of Central Greece. It was also a region of ancient Greece. Its capital is Livadeia, the second largest city being Thebes.-Geography:...

n city of Tanagra
Tanagra
Tanagra is a town and a municipality north of Athens in Boeotia, Greece. The seat of the municipality is the town Schimatari. It is not far from Thebes, and it was noted in antiquity for the figurines named after it...

 in the late 2nd century CE.

Argeiphontes


Hermes' epithet
Epithet
An epithet or byname is a descriptive term accompanying or occurring in place of a name and having entered common usage. It has various shades of meaning when applied to seemingly real or fictitious people, divinities, objects, and binomial nomenclature. It is also a descriptive title...

 Argeiphontes (Latin Argicida), or Argus-slayer, recalls his slaying of the hundred eyed giant Argus Panoptes
Argus Panoptes
In Greek mythology, Argus Panoptes or Argos, guardian of the heifer-nymph Io and son of Arestor, was a primordial giant whose epithet "Panoptes", "all-seeing", led to his being described with multiple, often one hundred, eyes. The epithet Panoptes was applied to the Titan of the Sun, Helios, and...

, who was watching over the heifer-nymph Io
Io (mythology)
Io was, in Greek mythology, a priestess of Hera in Argos, a nymph who was seduced by Zeus, who changed her into a heifer to escape detection. His wife Hera set ever-watchful Argus Panoptes to guard her, but Hermes was sent to distract the guardian and slay him...

 in the sanctuary of Queen Hera
Hera
Hera was the wife and one of three sisters of Zeus in the Olympian pantheon of Greek mythology and religion. Her chief function was as the goddess of women and marriage. Her counterpart in the religion of ancient Rome was Juno. The cow and the peacock were sacred to her...

 herself in Argos. Putting Argus to sleep, Hermes used a spell to close all of Argus' eyes and then slew the giant. Argus' eyes were then put into the tail of the peacock, symbol of the goddess Hera.

Logios



His epithet of Logios is the representation of the god in the act of speaking, as orator, or as the god of eloquence. Indeed, together with Athena
Athena
In Greek mythology, Athena, Athenê, or Athene , also referred to as Pallas Athena/Athene , is the goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, civilization, warfare, strength, strategy, the arts, crafts, justice, and skill. Minerva, Athena's Roman incarnation, embodies similar attributes. Athena is...

, he was the standard divine representation of eloquence in classical Greece. The Homer
Homer
In the Western classical tradition Homer , is the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and is revered as the greatest ancient Greek epic poet. These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature.When he lived is...

ic Hymn to Hermes
Homeric Hymns
The Homeric Hymns are a collection of thirty-three anonymous Ancient Greek hymns celebrating individual gods. The hymns are "Homeric" in the sense that they employ the same epic meter—dactylic hexameter—as the Iliad and Odyssey, use many similar formulas and are couched in the same dialect...

 (probably 6th century BCE) describes
Hermes making a successful speech from the cradle to defend himself from the (true) charge of cattle theft. In the 5th century BCE Proclus
Proclus
Proclus Lycaeus , called "The Successor" or "Diadochos" , was a Greek Neoplatonist philosopher, one of the last major Classical philosophers . He set forth one of the most elaborate and fully developed systems of Neoplatonism...

' commentary on Plato
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

's Republic
Republic (Plato)
The Republic is a Socratic dialogue written by Plato around 380 BC concerning the definition of justice and the order and character of the just city-state and the just man...

 describes Hermes as the god of persuasion. Other Neoplatonists viewed Hermes Logios more mystically as origin of a "Hermaic chain" of light and radiance emanating from the divine intellect (nous
Nous
Nous , also called intellect or intelligence, is a philosophical term for the faculty of the human mind which is described in classical philosophy as necessary for understanding what is true or real, very close in meaning to intuition...

). This epithet also produced a sculptural type
Hermes Logios type
The Hermes Logios type is a statue type amongst representations of the Greek god Hermes, showing him in the form of Hermes Logios. It was first raised for the Athenian dead of the battle of Coronea . Examples include:*'Hermes Logios' at Rome...

.

Other


Other epithets included:
  • Agoraeus, of the agora
    Agora
    The Agora was an open "place of assembly" in ancient Greek city-states. Early in Greek history , free-born male land-owners who were citizens would gather in the Agora for military duty or to hear statements of the ruling king or council. Later, the Agora also served as a marketplace where...

  • Acacesius, of Acacus
    Acacus (Greek mythology)
    Acacus , in Greek mythology, was a king of Acacesium in Arcadia, the son of Lycaon, and the foster-father of the infant Hermes. Maia gave birth to Hermes at dawn in a sacred cave on Mount Cyllene in Arcadia, and he was raised by Acacus. He was believed to be the founder of the Arcadian town of...

     
  • Argiphontes, slayer or Argus
  • Charidotes, giver of charm
  • Cyllenius, born on Mount Kyllini
    Mount Kyllini
    Mount Kyllini or Mount Cyllene , is a mountain on the Peloponnesus peninsula in Greece, famous for its association with the god Hermes. It rises to above sea level, making it the second highest point on the peninsula. It is located near the border between the historic regions of Arcadia and...

  • Diaktoros, the messenger
  • Dolios, the schemer
  • Enagonios, lord of contests
  • Enodios, on the road
  • Epimelios, guardian of flocks
  • Eriounios, luck bringer
  • Hodios patron of travelers and wayfarers
  • Oneiropompus, conductor of dreams
  • Polygius
  • Psychopompos, conveyor of souls
  • Trismegistus
    Hermes Trismegistus
    Hermes Trismegistus is the eponymous author of the Hermetic Corpus, a sacred text belonging to the genre of divine revelation.-Origin and identity:...

    , later in Hermeticism
    Hermeticism
    Hermeticism or the Western Hermetic Tradition is a set of philosophical and religious beliefs based primarily upon the pseudepigraphical writings attributed to Hermes Trismegistus...


Worship and cult


One of the oldest places of worship for Hermes was Mount Cilene in Arcadia, where the myth says that he was born. Tradition says that his first temple was built by Lycaon. From there the cult would have been taken to Athens, and them radiate to the whole of Greece, according to Smith, and his temples and statues became extremely numerous. Lucian of Samosata said he saw the temples of Hermes everywhere. In many places, his temple was consecrated in conjunction with Aphrodite, as in Attica, Arcadia, Crete, Samos and in Magna Graecia. Several ex-votos found in his temples revealed his role as initiator of young adulthood, among them soldiers and hunters, since war and certain forms of hunting were seen as ceremonial initiatory ordeals. This function of Hermes explains why some images in temples and other vessels show him as a teenager.
As a patron of the gym
Gym
The word γυμνάσιον was used in Ancient Greece, that mean a locality for both physical and intellectual education of young men...

 and fighting, Hermes had statues in gyms and he was also worshiped in the sanctuary of the Twelve Gods in Olympia, where Greeks celebrated the Olympic Games
Olympic Games
The Olympic Games is a major international event featuring summer and winter sports, in which thousands of athletes participate in a variety of competitions. The Olympic Games have come to be regarded as the world’s foremost sports competition where more than 200 nations participate...

. His statue was held there on an altar dedicated to him and Apollo together. Hermes’ feast was the special Hermaea
Hermaea (festival)
The Hermaea were ancient Greek festivals held annually in honour of Hermes, notably at Pheneos at the foot of Mt Cyllene in Arcadia. Usually the Hermaea honoured Hermes as patron of sport and gymnastics, often in conjunction with Heracles. They included athletic contests of various kinds and were...

  was celebrated with sacrifices to the god and with athletics and gymnastics, possibly having been established in the sixth century BC, but no documentation on the festival before the fourth century BC survives. However, Plato said that Socrates attended a Hermaea. Of all the festivals involving Greek games, these were the most like initiation
Initiation
Initiation is a rite of passage ceremony marking entrance or acceptance into a group or society. It could also be a formal admission to adulthood in a community or one of its formal components...

s because participation in them was restricted to young boys and excluded adults. Having an initiatory character, the winners of Hermaea returned to their villages as heroes and adults who had acquired honor. The Hermaea of Pellene became particularly busy, attracting competitors from distant regions. His prize was a thick mantle.

Symbols of Hermes were the palm tree, turtle
Turtle
Turtles are reptiles of the order Testudines , characterised by a special bony or cartilaginous shell developed from their ribs that acts as a shield...

, rooster
Rooster
A rooster, also known as a cockerel, cock or chanticleer, is a male chicken with the female being called a hen. Immature male chickens of less than a year's age are called cockerels...

, goat
Goat
The domestic goat is a subspecies of goat domesticated from the wild goat of southwest Asia and Eastern Europe. The goat is a member of the Bovidae family and is closely related to the sheep as both are in the goat-antelope subfamily Caprinae. There are over three hundred distinct breeds of...

, the number four, several kinds of fish, incense. Sacrifices involved honey, cakes, pigs, goats, lambs and young people. In the sanctuary of Hermes Promakhos in Tanagra is a strawberry tree under which it was believed he had created, and in the hills Phene ran three sources that were sacred to him, because he believed that there had been bathed at birth. A statue of Hermes guarded the entrance to the temple of Apollo at Thebes
Ancient Thebes (Boeotia)
See Thebes, Greece for the modern city built on the ancient ruins.Ancient Thebes was a Boeotian city-state , situated to the north of the Cithaeron range, which divides Boeotia from Attica, and on the southern edge of the Boeotian plain...

, and there were some at Tanagra in which he appeared with a lamb (Kriophoros), because a legend said that he departed from the plague of the city carrying a lamb around the walls. Homer said the latest libations of a banquet were dedicated to Hermes, and Pausanias, who in his time had their statues in all gyms, following an ancient custom which was now being copied by the barbarians. In many cities there was a statue of him in the marketplaces. One form of worship was oracular, as established in the Pharaoh. In the market town once stood a statue of Hermes Agoraios, of which he had a heart carved in stone, with two oil lamps fastened with leather straps.

Hermai/Herms



In Ancient Greece, Hermes was a phallic god of boundaries. His name, in the form herma
Herma
A Herma, commonly in English herm is a sculpture with a head, and perhaps a torso, above a plain, usually squared lower section, on which male genitals may also be carved at the appropriate height...

, was applied to a wayside marker pile of stones; each traveller added a stone to the pile. In the 6th century BCE, Hipparchos, the son of Pisistratus
Peisistratos (Athens)
Peisistratos was a tyrant of Athens from 546 to 527/8 BC. His legacy lies primarily in his institution of the Panathenaic Festival and the consequent first attempt at producing a definitive version for Homeric epics. Peisistratos' championing of the lower class of Athens, the Hyperakrioi, can be...

, replaced the cairn
Cairn
Cairn is a term used mainly in the English-speaking world for a man-made pile of stones. It comes from the or . Cairns are found all over the world in uplands, on moorland, on mountaintops, near waterways and on sea cliffs, and also in barren desert and tundra areas...

s that marked the midway point between each village deme
Deme
In Ancient Greece, a deme or demos was a subdivision of Attica, the region of Greece surrounding Athens. Demes as simple subdivisions of land in the countryside seem to have existed in the 6th century BC and earlier, but did not acquire particular significance until the reforms of Cleisthenes in...

 at the central agora
Agora
The Agora was an open "place of assembly" in ancient Greek city-states. Early in Greek history , free-born male land-owners who were citizens would gather in the Agora for military duty or to hear statements of the ruling king or council. Later, the Agora also served as a marketplace where...

 of Athens with a square or rectangular pillar of stone or bronze topped by a bust of Hermes with a beard
Beard
A beard is the collection of hair that grows on the chin, cheeks and neck of human beings. Usually, only pubescent or adult males are able to grow beards. However, women with hirsutism may develop a beard...

. An erect phallus
Phallus
A phallus is an erect penis, a penis-shaped object such as a dildo, or a mimetic image of an erect penis. Any object that symbolically resembles a penis may also be referred to as a phallus; however, such objects are more often referred to as being phallic...

 rose from the base. In the more primitive Mount Kyllini
Mount Kyllini
Mount Kyllini or Mount Cyllene , is a mountain on the Peloponnesus peninsula in Greece, famous for its association with the god Hermes. It rises to above sea level, making it the second highest point on the peninsula. It is located near the border between the historic regions of Arcadia and...

 or Cyllenian herms, the standing stone or wooden pillar was simply a carved phallus. In Athens, herms were placed outside houses for good luck. "That a monument of this kind could be transformed into an Olympian
Twelve Olympians
The Twelve Olympians, also known as the Dodekatheon , in Greek mythology, were the principal deities of the Greek pantheon, residing atop Mount Olympus. Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Hestia, and Hades were siblings. Ares, Hermes, Hephaestus, Athena, Apollo, and Artemis were children of Zeus...

 god is astounding," Walter Burkert
Walter Burkert
Walter Burkert is a German scholar of Greek mythology and cult.An emeritus professor of classics at the University of Zurich, Switzerland, he also has taught in the United Kingdom and the United States...

 remarked.

In 415 BCE, when the Athenian fleet was about to set sail for Syracuse
Syracuse, Italy
Syracuse is a historic city in Sicily, the capital of the province of Syracuse. The city is notable for its rich Greek history, culture, amphitheatres, architecture, and as the birthplace of the preeminent mathematician and engineer Archimedes. This 2,700-year-old city played a key role in...

 during the Peloponnesian War
Peloponnesian War
The Peloponnesian War, 431 to 404 BC, was an ancient Greek war fought by Athens and its empire against the Peloponnesian League led by Sparta. Historians have traditionally divided the war into three phases...

, all of the Athenian hermai were vandalized one night. The Athenians at the time believed it was the work of saboteurs, either from Syracuse or from the anti-war faction within Athens itself. Socrates
Socrates
Socrates was a classical Greek Athenian philosopher. Credited as one of the founders of Western philosophy, he is an enigmatic figure known chiefly through the accounts of later classical writers, especially the writings of his students Plato and Xenophon, and the plays of his contemporary ...

' pupil Alcibiades
Alcibiades
Alcibiades, son of Clinias, from the deme of Scambonidae , was a prominent Athenian statesman, orator, and general. He was the last famous member of his mother's aristocratic family, the Alcmaeonidae, which fell from prominence after the Peloponnesian War...

 was suspected of involvement, and Socrates indirectly paid for the impiety with his life.

From these origins, hermai moved into the repertory of Classical architecture.

Pan


The satyr
Satyr
In Greek mythology, satyrs are a troop of male companions of Pan and Dionysus — "satyresses" were a late invention of poets — that roamed the woods and mountains. In myths they are often associated with pipe-playing....

-like Greek god of nature, shepherds and flocks, Pan
Pan (mythology)
Pan , in Greek religion and mythology, is the god of the wild, shepherds and flocks, nature, of mountain wilds, hunting and rustic music, as well as the companion of the nymphs. His name originates within the Greek language, from the word paein , meaning "to pasture." He has the hindquarters, legs,...

, was often said to be the son of Hermes through the nymph Dryope
Dryope
In Greek mythology, Dryope is the name attributed to several distinct figures.-Dryope, lover of Apollo:The most prominent Dryope was the daughter of Dryops, king of Oeta or of Eurytus . She was sometimes thought of as one of the Pleiades . There are two stories of her metamorphosis into a black...

. In the Homeric Hymn to Pan, Pan's mother ran away from the newborn god in fright from his goat-like appearance.

Hermaphroditus


Hermaphroditus
Hermaphroditus
In Greek mythology, Hermaphroditus or Hermaphroditos was the child of Aphrodite and Hermes. He was a minor deity of bisexuality and effeminacy. According to Ovid, born a remarkably handsome boy, he was transformed into an androgynous being by union with the water nymph Salmacis...

 was an immortal son of Hermes through Aphrodite
Aphrodite
Aphrodite is the Greek goddess of love, beauty, pleasure, and procreation.Her Roman equivalent is the goddess .Historically, her cult in Greece was imported from, or influenced by, the cult of Astarte in Phoenicia....

. He was changed into an androgynous being, a creature of both sexes, when the gods literally granted the nymph Salmacis
Salmacis
In Greek mythology, Salmacis was an atypical naiad who rejected the ways of the virginal Greek goddess Artemis in favour of vanity and idleness. Her attempted rape of Hermaphroditus places her as the only nymph rapist in the Greek mythological canon ."There dwelt a Nymph, not up for hunting or...

' wish, that she and Hermaphroditus were never separated after she embraced him passionately in a pool. He then cursed the pool, saying any man who entered it would lose his masculinity.

Priapus


Depending on the sources consulted, the god Priapus
Priapus
In Greek mythology, Priapus or Priapos , was a minor rustic fertility god, protector of livestock, fruit plants, gardens and male genitalia. Priapus is marked by his absurdly oversized, permanent erection, which gave rise to the medical term priapism...

 could be understood as a son of Hermes. In Priapus, Hermes' phallic origins survived.

Eros


According to some sources, the mischievous winged god of love Eros
Eros
Eros , in Greek mythology, was the Greek god of love. His Roman counterpart was Cupid . Some myths make him a primordial god, while in other myths, he is the son of Aphrodite....

, son of Aphrodite, was sired by Hermes, though the gods Ares
Ares
Ares is the Greek god of war. He is one of the Twelve Olympians, and the son of Zeus and Hera. In Greek literature, he often represents the physical or violent aspect of war, in contrast to the armored Athena, whose functions as a goddess of intelligence include military strategy and...

 and Hephaestus
Hephaestus
Hephaestus was a Greek god whose Roman equivalent was Vulcan. He is the son of Zeus and Hera, the King and Queen of the Gods - or else, according to some accounts, of Hera alone. He was the god of technology, blacksmiths, craftsmen, artisans, sculptors, metals, metallurgy, fire and volcanoes...

 were also among those said to be the sire, whereas in the Theogony
Theogony
The Theogony is a poem by Hesiod describing the origins and genealogies of the gods of the ancient Greeks, composed circa 700 BC...

, Hesiod
Hesiod
Hesiod was a Greek oral poet generally thought by scholars to have been active between 750 and 650 BC, around the same time as Homer. His is the first European poetry in which the poet regards himself as a topic, an individual with a distinctive role to play. Ancient authors credited him and...

 claims that Eros was born of nothing before the Gods. Eros' Roman name was Cupid
Cupid
In Roman mythology, Cupid is the god of desire, affection and erotic love. He is the son of the goddess Venus and the god Mars. His Greek counterpart is Eros...

. Eros also has magical arrows, with which he can cause any mortal to fall in love with the next being they see, human or otherwise. According to Anne-Marie Bowery in "Diotima Tells Socrates A Story: A Narrative Analysis of Plato's Symposium" which was included in "Feminism and Ancient Philosophy" edited by Julie K. Ward, Eros was conceived when all the gods except Penia (whose name means poverty) are invited to Aphrodites birthday party but Penia came anyway. Poros (whose name means plenty) passed out in Zeuses garden after drinking too much. Penia seduces Poros and conceives Eros who acquires a dual character from both his mother and father. This is how Eros got his indeterminate and intermediary nature, that between the divine and the earthly.

Tyche


The goddess of prosperity
Prosperity
Prosperity is the state of flourishing, thriving, good fortune and/or successful social status. Prosperity often encompasses wealth but also includes others factors which are independent of wealth to varying degrees, such as happiness and health....

, Tyche
Tyche
In ancient Greek city cults, Tyche was the presiding tutelary deity that governed the fortune and prosperity of a city, its destiny....

 (Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

) or Fortuna
Fortuna (mythology)
Fortuna was the goddess of fortune and personification of luck in Roman religion. She might bring good luck or bad: she could be represented as veiled and blind, as in modern depictions of Justice, and came to represent life's capriciousness...

, was sometimes said to be the daughter of Hermes and Aphrodite.

Abderus


Abderus
Abderus
In Greek mythology Abderus or Abderos was a divine hero, reputed a son of Hermes by some accounts, and eponym of Abdera, Thrace....

 was devoured by the Mares of Diomedes
Mares of Diomedes
The Mares of Diomedes, also called the Mares of Thrace, were four man-eating horses in Greek mythology. Magnificent, wild, and uncontrollable, they belonged to the giant Diomedes , king of Thrace, a son of Ares and Cyrene who lived on the shores of the Black Sea...

. He had gone to the Mares with his friend Heracles
Heracles
Heracles ,born Alcaeus or Alcides , was a divine hero in Greek mythology, the son of Zeus and Alcmene, foster son of Amphitryon and great-grandson of Perseus...

.

Autolycus


Autolycus
Autolycus
In Greek mythology, Autolycus was a son of Hermes and Chione. He was the husband of Neaera, or according to Homer, of Amphithea...

, the Prince of Thieves, was a son of Hermes and chione (mortal) and grandfather of Odysseus
Odysseus
Odysseus or Ulysses was a legendary Greek king of Ithaca and the hero of Homer's epic poem the Odyssey. Odysseus also plays a key role in Homer's Iliad and other works in the Epic Cycle....

.

Art and iconography



The image of Hermes evolved and varied according to Greek art and culture. During Archaic Greece he was usually depicted as a mature man, bearded, dressed as a traveler, herald, or pastor. During Classical
Classical Greece
Classical Greece was a 200 year period in Greek culture lasting from the 5th through 4th centuries BC. This classical period had a powerful influence on the Roman Empire and greatly influenced the foundation of Western civilizations. Much of modern Western politics, artistic thought, such as...

 and Hellenistic Greece
Hellenistic Greece
In the context of Ancient Greek art, architecture, and culture, Hellenistic Greece corresponds to the period between the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC and the annexation of the classical Greek heartlands by Rome in 146 BC...

 he is usually depicted young and nude, with athleticism, as befits the god of speech and of the gymnastics, or a robe, a formula is set predominantly through the centuries. When represented as Logios (speaker), his attitude is consistent with the attribute. Phidias
Phidias
Phidias or the great Pheidias , was a Greek sculptor, painter and architect, who lived in the 5th century BC, and is commonly regarded as one of the greatest of all sculptors of Classical Greece: Phidias' Statue of Zeus at Olympia was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World...

 left a statue of a famous Hermes Logios and Praxiteles
Praxiteles
Praxiteles of Athens, the son of Cephisodotus the Elder, was the most renowned of the Attic sculptors of the 4th century BC. He was the first to sculpt the nude female form in a life-size statue...

 another, also well known, showing him with Dionysus
Dionysus
Dionysus was the god of the grape harvest, winemaking and wine, of ritual madness and ecstasy in Greek mythology. His name in Linear B tablets shows he was worshipped from c. 1500—1100 BC by Mycenean Greeks: other traces of Dionysian-type cult have been found in ancient Minoan Crete...

 baby arms. At all times, however, through the Hellenistic periods, Roman, and throughout Western history into the present day, several of his characteristic objects are present as identification, but not always all together.

Among these objects is a wide-brimmed hat, the Petasos
Petasos
A petasos or petasus is a sun hat of Thessalian origin worn by the ancient Greeks, often in combination with the chlamys cape. It was usually made of wool felt, leather or straw, with a broad, floppy brim. It was worn primarily by farmers and travellers, and was considered characteristic of rural...

, widely used by rural people of antiquity to protect themselves from the sun, and that in later times was adorned with a pair of small wings, sometimes the hat is not present, but may then have wings rising from the hair. Another object is the Porta a stick, called rhabdomyolysis (stick) or skeptron (scepter), which is referred to as a magic wand. Some early sources say that this was the bat he received from Apollo, but others question the merits of this claim. It seems that there may have been two canes, with time in a cast, one of a shepherd's staff, as stated in the Homeric Hymn, and the other a magic wand, according to some authors. His bat also came to be called kerykeion, the caduceus
Caduceus
The caduceus is the staff carried by Hermes in Greek mythology. The same staff was also borne by heralds in general, for example by Iris, the messenger of Hera. It is a short staff entwined by two serpents, sometimes surmounted by wings...

, in later times. Early depictions of the staff it show it as a baton stick topped by a golden way that resembled the number eight, though sometimes with its top truncated and open. Later the staff had two intertwined snakes and sometimes it was crowned with a pair of wings and a ball, but the old form remained in use even when Hermes was associated with Mercury by the Romans. Hyginus
Gaius Julius Hyginus
Gaius Julius Hyginus was a Latin author, a pupil of the famous Cornelius Alexander Polyhistor, and a freedman of Caesar Augustus. He was by Augustus elected superintendent of the Palatine library according to Suetonius' De Grammaticis, 20...

 explained the presence of snakes, saying that Hermes was traveling in Arcadia when he saw two snakes intertwined in battle. He put the caduceus between them and parted, and so said his staff would bring peace. The caduceus, historically, there appeared with Hermes, and is documented among the Babylonians from about 3,500 BC. The two snakes coiled around a stick was a symbol of the god Ningishzida
Ningishzida
Ningishzida is a Mesopotamian deity of the underworld. His name in Sumerian is translated as "lord of the good tree" by Thorkild Jacobsen....

, which served as a mediator between humans and the mother goddess Ishtar
Ishtar
Ishtar is the Assyrian and Babylonian goddess of fertility, love, war, and sex. She is the counterpart to the Sumerian Inanna and to the cognate north-west Semitic goddess Astarte.-Characteristics:...

 or the supreme Ningirsu. In Greece itself the other gods have been depicted holding a caduceus, but it was mainly associated with Hermes. It was said to have the power to make people fall asleep or wake up, and also made peace between litigants, and is a visible sign of his authority, being used as a scepter. He was represented in doorways, possibly as an amulet
Amulet
An amulet, similar to a talisman , is any object intended to bring good luck or protection to its owner.Potential amulets include gems, especially engraved gems, statues, coins, drawings, pendants, rings, plants and animals; even words said in certain occasions—for example: vade retro satana—, to...

 of good fortune, or as a symbol of purification. The caduceus is not to be confused with the Rod of Asclepius
Rod of Asclepius
The rod of Asclepius , also known as the asklepian, is an ancient symbol associated with astrology, the Greek god Asclepius, and with medicine and healing. It consists of a serpent entwined around a staff. The name of the symbol derives from its early and widespread association with Asclepius, the...

, the patron of medicine and son of Apollo
Apollo
Apollo is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in Greek and Roman mythology...

, which bears only one snake. The rod of Asclepius
Asclepius
Asclepius is the God of Medicine and Healing in ancient Greek religion. Asclepius represents the healing aspect of the medical arts; his daughters are Hygieia , Iaso , Aceso , Aglæa/Ægle , and Panacea...

 was adopted by most Western doctors as a badge of their profession, but in several medical organizations of the United States, the caduceus took its place since the eighteenth century, although this use is declining. After the Renaissance the caduceus also appeared in the heraldic crests of several, and currently is a symbol of commerce.

His sandals, called pédila by the Greeks and talaria by the Romans were made of palm and myrtle branches, but were described as beautiful, golden and immortal, made a sublime art, able to take the roads with the speed of wind. Originally they had no wings, but late in the artistic representations, they are depicted. In certain images, the wings spring directly from the ankles. He has also been depicted with a purse or a bag in his hands, and wearing a robe or cloak, which had the power to confer invisibility. His weapon was a sword of gold, which killed Argos; lent to Persus to kill Medusa
Medusa
In Greek mythology Medusa , " guardian, protectress") was a Gorgon, a chthonic monster, and a daughter of Phorcys and Ceto. The author Hyginus, interposes a generation and gives Medusa another chthonic pair as parents. Gazing directly upon her would turn onlookers to stone...

.

Hermes in popular culture


See Greek mythology in popular culture: Hermes

External links