Nadia Noor
GHR H260


I. God of...

A. Messenger or herald of the gods.

B. Greek god of riches, trade, good fortune, eloquence, prudence, as well as cunning, fraud, and theft - a suble schemer.

C. Psychopompos-"The leader," or "conductor of the soul" (an epithet of Hermes as conductor of the souls of the deceased to the realm of Hades).

D. Closely connected with bringing dreams to mortals.

E. Among men, he became the patron of merchants.

F. God of the roads and protector of travelers (pillars topped with his image were used as guideposts along roadways - called "herms").

G. Thought most to care for and to increase flocks: Pausanias tells of a bronze image of a seated Hermes with a ram standing by him.

II. Appearance

A. Often represented as a slender youth wearing winged sandals and a petassos (a broad-brimmed hat adorned with two small wings), and  holding a kerykeion (Greek) or caduceus (Latin). A Kerykeion/Caduceus (magic wand) has two snakes twined around a staff topped by wings; associated with medicine because snakes symbolized wisdom. The clothes he donned were usually that of a traveler, or that of a workman or shepherd.

III. Parents

Son of Zeus and the nymph Maia, daughter of Atlas.

Maia-"The Pleiades" was the name given to the seven daughters of Atlas and Pleione. Maia was the eldest of the daughters, and said to be the most beautiful. Being shy, she lived quietly and alone in a cave on Mount Cyllene. Zeus, however, discovered the beautiful young woman and fell in love with her. He came to her cave at night to make love to her away from the jealous eyes of his wife, Hera. As a result, Maia bore Zeus a son, Hermes.

IV. Birth

A. In a cave of Cyllene (Cylleneius is another name for Hermes. So called from Mount Cyllene where he was born).

B. Through the land of Pheneus are mountains called Tricrena (Three Springs), where Hermes was washed in the three springs after birth by the nymphs of the mountain (for this reason, Tricrena is considered sacred for Hermes).

V. Childhood

A. Reared in Acacesuim, where Acacus, the son of Lycaon, became Hermes’ foster father.

VI. Sexual encounters and offspring

A. Sons with named mother:

1. Autolycus - Autolycus was the son of Chione and Hermes, and the grandfather of Odysseus. Renowned for his wiliness and his cleverness as a thief.

2. Daphnis - The son of Hermes and a nymph. He was known as a shepherd and flute player and regarded as the inventor of bucolic poetry.

3. Ceryx - A son of Hermes and Pandrosus who became the ancestor of a family of priests in Athens (the Kerukes).

4. Hermaphroditus - whose name is a conjunction of his parents': Hermes and Aphrodite.

5. Pan - half man-half goat, born to Hermes by Penelope. Pan was also a god of fertility, unbridled male sexuality and carnal desire.

6. Cephalus - a son by Herse

B. Sons without named mother

Abderus (son of Hermes, a minion of Hercules), Aethalides, Echion, Myrtilus (charioteer of Oenomaus)

C. Daughter with named mother

1. Peitho ("persuasion") is the personification of persuasion and seduction. She is the daughter of Hermes and Aphrodite.

VII. Stories associated with Hermes

A. Stories involving the gods

1. Apollo and his oxen: On the day of his birth, Hermes slipped out and stole the oxen which his brother Apollo was herding. Hermes put shoes on the oxen to hide their tracks. He hid them in a cave in Pylus. He sacrificed two, nailed the skin to rocks, while he boiled and ate some of the flesh. Hermes then found a tortoise, killed it, cleaned it out, strung the shell with chords made from the oxen he sacrificed, thus inventing the lyre. Apollo discovered the truth about the theft through divination. Apollo went to Maia, Hermes’ mother, and accused Hermes. Maia showed Apollo the newborn child. Apollo then brought Hermes to Zeus. Zeus, the all-knowing, bade Hermes to return the oxen and so they were returned. When Apollo heard the lyre, he gave the oxen to Hermes in exchange for it. While Hermes was later herding his oxen, he made himself a shepherd’s pipe, known as a syrinx (pan-pipes), and piped on it. Apollo offered to give Hermes the golden wand which he owned and the art of divination in exchange for the pipe. Thereafter, Zeus appointed Hermes as herald to himself and to the infernal gods (those of the underworld).

2. Amphion (son of Zeus): By playing a magic lyre which he had received from Hermes, Amphion charmed stones so that they built themselves into walls of the city of Thebes.

3. Demeter and Persephone: Persephone, daughter of Demeter-the goddess of grain, was stolen by Hades and taken to the underworld. Demeter could hear her cries but no one knew where she had been taken. When Apollo traveled under the Earth as he did over it, he saw Persephone in the underworld. Then Zeus sent Hermes to bring Persephone back which he did.

4. Myrtilus (charioteer of Oenomaus): he betrayed his master to Pelops, who had offered him half of Oenomaus' realm if Myrtilus would help Pelops cheat to win a race against him. Pelops did not keep his promise, however, and threw Myrtilus into the sea. Hermes placed his son among the stars.

5. Aglauros (half-dragon half-man creature): Sister of Herse who was beloved by Hermes. When Hermes visited Herse, Aglauros, who was jealous, got in his way and said she would not move. The god took her at her word and turned her into stone so she could not.

6. Autolycus (son of Chione and Hermes, and the grandfather of  Odysseus): Chione was the beautiful daughter of Daedalion, and was desired by both Apollo and Hermes. Apollo chose to wait until nightfall to sleep with the girl, but Hermes used his wand to charm her into sleep and came to her first, during the day. Chione bore two sons--Philammon to Apollo and Autolycus to Hermes. Autolycus inherited Hermes' skill at trickery.

B. Stories involving humans

1. Pandora (the first woman) was to be adorned with gifts from all the gods. Hermes gave her persuasion.

2. Perseus slew Medusa with the help of the gods; Hermes gave him a magic sword.

3. Eurydice: Hermes guided Eurydice back down to the underworld after she had been allowed to stay for one day on earth with her husband Orpheus.

4. Io had the misfortune to be subjected to the lust of Zeus. Zeus, in an attempt to avoid the rage and jealousy of Hera, his wife, transformed Io into a handsome white heifer. Hera, who knew Zeus was up to no good, asked for the heifer as a present. Zeus could not refuse. Hera deposited Io in the safe keeping of Argus, the watchman with a hundred eyes. She was eventually rescued by Hermes.

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