Hermes Messenger of the Greek gods

Hermes Messenger of the Greek gods

Hermes an Olympian god in Greek religion and mythology, the son of Zeus and the Pleiad Maia, and the second youngest of the Olympian gods (Dionysus being the youngest). Hermes was the emissary and messenger of the gods. Hermes was also “the divine trickster” and “the god of boundaries and the transgression of boundaries, … the patron of herdsmen, thieves, graves, and heralds.”

Hermes
Messenger of the gods, god of trade, thieves,
travelers, sports, athletes, border crossings,
and guide to the Underworld

Home
Mount Olympus

Symbol’s of Hermes
Talaria, caduceus, tortoise,
Petasos (Winged helmet),
lyre, rooster

Consorts
1 Merope
One of the seven Pleiades

2 Aphrodite
Goddess of love, beauty,
pleasure, and procreation.

3 Dryope
The daughter of Dryops
king of Oeta

4 Peitho
The goddess who personifies
persuasion and seduction.

5 Hecate
Goddess of magic, crossroads,
ghosts, and necromancy

Children
1 Pan
God of nature, the wild, shepherds, flocks, of
mountain wilds, and is often associated with
sexuality.
Mother Daughter of Driope

2 Hermaphroditus
Minor deity of unions,
androgyny, marriage,
sexuality and fertility.
Mother Aphrodite

3 Tyche
The presiding tutelary deity that
governed the fortune and
prosperity of cities.

4 Abderus
A divine hero, and one
of Heracles’ lovers.
Mother Eponym of Abdera, Thrace

5 Autolycus
Mother Chione

6 Angelia
The Daemon of messages,
tidings, and
proclamations

7 Myrtilus
A divine hero.
His mother is the Amazon
Theobule or Myrto

and…
KERYX (by Aglauros),KEPHALOS (by Herse)
KAPHALOS (by Kreousa),ELEUSIS (by Daeira)
ELEUSINOS,BOUNOS (by Alkidameia)
POLYBOS (by Khthonophyle),PHARIS (by Phylodameia)
EUANDROS,AUTOLYKOS (by Khione or Philonis)
ABDEROS,AITHALIDES (by Eupolemeia)
EUDOROS (by Polymele),EURYTOS, EKHION (by Antianeira)
SAON (by Rhene),KYDON (by Akalle)
PHAUNOS,KAIKOS (by Okyrrhoe)
DAPHNIS (by a Nymphe),NORAX (by Erytheia)
ARABOS (by Thronia),LIBYS (by Libya)
EURESTOS (by Aptale)

Parents
Zeus king of the gods
Maia a nymphe goddess

Roman equivalent
Mercury

Norse equivalent
Odin

Maia was a shy goddess who dwelt alone
in a cave near the peaks of Mount Kyllene
(Cyllene) in Arkadia. She raised the boy
Arkas (Arcas) in her cave whose mother
Callisto had been transformed into a
bear by Zeus’ wife Hera in a jealous
rage. When Zeus saw Maia he traveled
to her cave and seduced her.

After giving birth to the baby, Maia wrapped
him in blankets and went to sleep. The rapidly
maturing infant Hermes crawled away to Thessaly
where by night-fall of his first day he stole
some of his half-brother Apollo’s cattle.

One by one, he started pulling the hoofs
out of the cows’ feet and re-attaching them
in the reverse order. The same he did to his
own sandals. Then he took the herd, which
now seemed to be walking backwards and hid
the herd inside a cave. Finally, he
returned to his cave and back to his
mother.

 

Apollo was the god of prophecy, so he soon
found out the thief and went to Mount Cyllene
to find Hermes in his cave. Little Hermes was
peacefully sleeping inside his cradle, but
Apollo grabbed the infant and took him up
to Mount Olympus to be judged by Zeus.

Zeus found the story quite amusing
so he didn’t punish Hermes, he only
asked from him to return the herd.
Regretful of what he had done, Hermes
then offered Apollo his lyre as a
present. The lyre was a musical
instrument Hermes had created
himself out of the shell of
a tortoise.

To compensate Hermes for his kindness,
Apollo returned the gesture by giving
Hermes a golden rod to guide the
herds. From that moment on, there
was peace again in Mount Olympus
and a strong friendship began
between Hermes and Apollo.

HERMES’ THEFT OF APOLLO’S CATTLE (HOMERIC HYMN 7th to 4th BC)

HERMES INVENTOR OF THE LYRE

While the messenger god Hermes was tending the
flocks of a man named Dryops, he fell in love with
Dryops’s daughter. Hermes seduced the young woman
and Pan was born … Pan had goat ears, horns on
his head and goat-hooves for feet. When the young
mother and the attending nurse saw the infant they
fled in fear but Hermes was proud of his new son.

Hermes wrapped the baby in the warm skins of
mountain hares and showed him to Zeus and the
rest of the Immortals. The gods and goddesses
were delighted with the strange child
especially Dionysos, the god of wine.
They named him Pan, which literally
means All, because they all
adored him.

 

HERMES AND THE BIRTH OF PAN (Greek epic 7th to 4th BC)

When Zeus was consorting with the Argive
Nymphe Io, his jealous wife Hera appeared
on the scene. The god quickly transformed
her into a white heifer but the goddess
was not deceived and demanded the animal
as a gift. She then appointed Argos
Panoptes as its guard.

Zeus sent Hermes to surreptitiously rescue
his lover. The god lulled the giant to sleep
with his music and slew him with his sword.
From this conquest he earned the title
Argeiphontes “Slayer of Argos”. Hera
rewarded Argos for his service by
placing his hundred eyes on the
tail of her sacred bird
the peacock.

HERMES AND ARGUS PANOPTES (from Homer’s Iliad)

Hermes in the guise of a cattle-herder helped
a bull-shaped Zeus seduce Europa…
Europa and her companions were gathering flowers
by the sea. Zeus noticed Europa and told Hermes
to herd the nearby cows toward the girls. Zeus
appeared to the group in the form of a white a
bull so obviously gentle that all the maidens
rushed to stroke and pet it.

The bull laid down in front of Europa and
she slid onto its back. Instantly, the bull
charged off, plunging into the sea, and
began to swim from the shore. He took her
to Crete. She bore him many sons
included Minos and Rhadamanthus

 

SEDUCTION OF EUROPA BY BULL-SHAPED
ZEUS (7th to 4th BC)

Hermes, in the guise of slave-trader sold Hercules..

Hermes sold Hercules as a slave to Omphale, the
queen of Lydia for a price of three silver talents.
Hercules became soft living with the Lydian queen
and succumbed to various pleasures, such as
wearing women’s garments while Omphale wore
his famed lion’s pelt.

Sale of Hercules
(Greek mythographer 2nd AD)

Hyrieus was the eponym of Hyria in Boeotia,
where he dwelt. He was visited by Zeus and
Hermes who, to express gratitude for his
hospitality, promised him to fulfill a
wish of his, he said that he wanted
children. The gods filled a sacrificial
bull’s hide with their urine, then told
Hyrieus to bury it. Nine months later,
Hyrieus found a newborn baby boy inside
and named him Orion. Orion means
“having three fathers”

HERMES FAVOUR, HYRIEUS
(Greek epic 5th AD)

Hermes was the said to have instructed
mankind in the language of many tongues.
His role was similar to that of the Tower
of Babel in Judaic mythology, namely the
division of nations through
diverse language

 

Crocus was a mortal youth who was
a companion of Hermes and was
accidentally killed by the god
in a game of discus. Hermes
was so distraught at this
that he transformed
Crocus’ body into
a flower.

The caduceus was given to Hermes by
his father Zeus, when he proclaimed
Hermes as the official messenger of
the gods. Whenever the gods and
mortals saw Hermes holding the
caduceus, they knew that he
would announce an official
message.

The caduceus once split two poisonous fighting 
snakes. From the moment
they wrapped around the caduceus,
they stopped fighting and started
looking at each other peacefully.
The caduceus is called “kerykion”
in Greek, deriving from the word
“keryx”, which means “herald”
in Greek.

 

Aesop, Fables 476

Zeus and Hermes came disguised as ordinary
peasants, no one would give them shelter but
Baucis and Philemon. Though the couple were
poor, their generosity far surpassed that of
their rich neighbours. Realising that her
guests were gods Baucis and her husband
“raised their hands in supplication and
implored indulgence for their simple home
and fare.”

Philemon thought of catching
and killing the goose that guarded their
house and making it into a meal, but when
he went to do so, it ran to safety in Zeus’s
lap. Zeus said they need not slay the goose
and that they should leave the town. This was
because he was going to destroy the town and
all those who had turned them away and not
provided due hospitality.

 

Zeus said to climb the mountain with him and
Hermes and not to turn back until they reached
the top. After climbing to the summit (“as far
as an arrow could shoot in one pull”), Baucis
and Philemon looked back on their town and saw
that it had been destroyed by a flood and that
Zeus had turned their cottage into an ornate
temple.

 

The couple’s wish to be guardians of
the temple was granted. They also asked that
when time came for one of them to die, that
the other would die as well. Upon their death,
the couple were changed into an intertwining
pair of trees, one oak and one linden,
standing in the deserted boggy terrain.

Hermes organised a gymnastic contest to
marry off the 49 murderous Danaides.
The fifty daughter of Danaus were to
marry the fifty sons of Danaus’s twin
brother Aegyptus a king of Egypt. all
but one of them killed their husbands
on their wedding night.

The other forty-nine daughters remarried by
choosing their mates in footraces organised by
Hermes. They were condemned to spend eternity
carrying water in a jug to fill a bathtub
(pithos) without a bottom (or a leak) to
wash their sins off for the wedding night.
Because the water was always leaking they
would forever try to fill the tub.

In the first olympic games hermes
boasted he was the fastest of all
the gods and challenged Apollo
to a race. Apollo hid Hermes
winged sandals and won.

 

Hermes fell in love with Aphrodite, but
Aphrodite refused him. When she was bathing
in the river Achelous, Zeus sent an eagle
to take her sandal and gave it to Hermes.
Aphrodite in seeking for her sandal came
to Hermes, who seduce her in return
of her sandal.

From the union on Hermes and Aphrodite
Hermaphroditus, the two-sexed child
was born.

Myrtilos was the charioteer of Oinomaos King of
Pisa, who helped the hero Pelops win the king’s
daughter and his throne. When Pelops treacherously
slew him, he called on his father Hermes to curse
the hero and his descendants with his dying breath
Hermes fulfilled his desire, first bringing about
discord in the family of Pelops, leading to the
exile of his sons, and later to the blood feud
between the brothers Atreus and Thyestes in
their competition for the throne of Mykenai

 

When Hades took Persephone to the underworld
Hermes, was sent to retrieve her, but because
she had tasted food in the underworld, she was
obliged to spend a third of each year (the
winter months) there, and the remaining
part of the year with the gods above.

Ovid, Fasti 4. 417 ff (1st B.C to C1st A.D)

Perseus and Polydectes both wanted to
marry Danae. Polydectes decided to
create a plan to get rid of Perseus.
Polydectes pretended to marry the
daughter of his friend. Everybody
had to bring a gift, including
Perseus. However being poor he
had not brought anything, and
Polydectes pretended to
be furious.

Perseus said he would bring him
anything the king would ask so
Polydectes asked for the head
of the Gorgon Medusa. Hermes
said they were siblings,
Perseus was the son
of Zeus. Hermes
offered him his
winged sandals.

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca
(Greek mythographer 2nd AD)

Perseus was returning from having slain Medusa.
After he happened upon the chained Andromeda, he
approached Cetus using Hermes winged sandals and
killed the sea monster. He set Andromeda free,
and married her.

 

KRIOS KHRYSOMALLOS (Crius Chrysomallus) was a
flying, golden-fleeced ram. It given to the cloud
nymphe Nephele by Hermes. It was sent by Nephele
to rescue her children Phrixus and Helle when
they were about to be sacrificed to the gods.

 

The ram carried Phrixos all the way to Colchis
and then instructed the boy to sacrifice him
to the gods and lay his fleece in the grove of
Ares. The hining fleece became the goal of the
quest of Jason and the Argonauts.

Pseudo-Apollodorus (Greek mythographer 2nd AD)

Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica
(Greek epic 3rd BC)

Hermes sided with the Greeks in the Trojan War
and when the divine factions came to blows with
one another, he was set to stand against Leto.
However, in respect for the goddess, he stood
down, declining to combat her.

 

Hermes said ‘Leto, I will not fight with
you since it is a hard thing to come to
blows with the brides of Zeus who
gathers the clouds. No sooner you
may freely speak among the
immortal gods, and claim
that you were stronger
than I, and beat me.’

Homer, Iliad 20. 37 ff

Herse and Aglauros were daughters of Cecrops
King of Athens. Hermes became infatuated with
Herse and bribed her sister Aglauros so that
he could have access to Herse.

This annoyed the goddess of wisdom Athena
who afflicted Aglauros with jealousy, so that
she tried to prevent Hermes from entering
Herse’s room, whereupon Hermes changed
her into a black stone.

 

Tanagra was one of the twenty daughters
of Asopos and Metope. She was desired by
both Ares and Hermes. In order to decide
who would have her as a lover, Ares and
Hermes had a boxing match. In the
end Hermes triumphed.

 

Apemosyne was a daughter of Catreus, the
son of Minos and king of Crete. Hermes fell
in love with Apemosyne, but she fled from
him slipped on freshly skinned hides that
Hermes had laid across her path. And so
Hermes caught and raped her.

Later, when
Apemosyne told her brother what had
happened, he doubted her and became
angry, thinking that she was lying
about being molested by the god.
In his anger, he kicked her
to death.

 

Apollo and Hermes caught sight of Chione and
were filled with a burning lust. Apollo decided
to wait until night fell however Hermes was not
so patient. Through the use of magic he caused
Chione to fall into a deep sleep and proceeded
to rape her. Later that evening Apollo also
visited her in the guise of an old woman.

As a result of these two divine visitations
Chione gave birth to twins. By Hermes she
gave birth to Autolycus who grew into a
notorious thief and charlatan. By Apollo
she bore Philammon, a man famed both for
his voice and skill with a lyre.

Polymele, daughter of Phylas and wife of
Echecles. Was loved by Hermes, who spotted
her while she was performing a ritual dance
in honor of Artemis, and had by him
a son Eudorus.

 

Homer, Iliad (Greek epic 8th BC)

Hermes meets with Odysseus in disguise and
helps him to defeat Circe. He gives him the
Moly Plant so he can drink her drugged wine.
and he tells him not to sleep with her until
she agrees to release his men she turned
into pigs.

Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae (mythographer 2nd AD)

Wishing to remain a virgin Polyphonte fled to become
a companion of Artemis. This provoked the ire of
Aphrodite, who viewed this decision as a personal
affront. To punish Polyphonte for failing to honor
her womanly duty, Aphrodite caused her to lust
after a bear. Once at home, Polyphonte gave birth
to two humanoid bear-like sons Agrius and Oreius
(the result of her union with the bear).

Agrius and Oreius grew into huge men of immense
strength. As perhaps befits their feral patronage,
the Bear Twins honored neither men nor gods. Indeed
they were cannibals who attacked strangers on the
road. Zeus sent Hermes to punish them. The brothers
almost had their hands and feet severed were it not
for the intervention of their great-grandfather Ares
He persuaded Hermes to commute the sentence.

They transformed Agrius, Oreius, Polyphonte, and
the family’s female servant into birds. Polyphonte
was transformed into a small owl who is a portent
of war and sedition for mankind, Oreius was turned
into an eagle owl a general ill omen when seen and
Agrius was turned into a vulture whose habit of
eating the dead was said to make “the bird most
detested by gods and men”.

In a small act of mercy, Ares and Hermes
heeded the female servant’s prayer where
she had no involvement in the Bear Twins’
actions and decided not to transform her
into a bird heralding evil for mankind.
Instead, she was transformed into a
woodpecker supposedly a sign of good
luck if seen before a hunt.

A shepherd saw Hermes driving away the cattle
he had stolen from Apollo. The god promised to
reward him if he would not betray what he had
seen. Battus promised on oath to keep the secret.
Hermes assumed a different appearance and returned
to Battus he promised him a handsome present if
he would tell him who had stolen the cattle of
Apollo. He was tempted, and related all he knew
whereupon Hermes touched him with his staff and
changed him into a stone.

Meropis was a young girl who lived with
her two siblings Vyssa and Agron and her
father Eumelus. They held a feast for the
gods but Hermes Athena and Artemis were
not invited and felt insulted. Athena
and Artemis transformed into beautiful
women and Hermes into a shepherd.

 

Once there Hermes invited Eumelus and Agron
to follow him to the banquet the shepherd
had prepared for Hermes and asked from
Meropis to guide the women to the sacred
forest of Athena and Artemis. When Meropis
heard this, she got frustrated and
started hurling insults at Athena.

Immediately Athena transformed Meropis into
an owl. Her sister Vyssa was transformed into
a seagull. Agron tried to attack Hermes with
a roasting jack, but the god transformed him
into another bird with the name charadrius.
Eumelus complained so Hermes transformed
him into a raven and cursed him to only
announce bad news ever since.

Zeus invited all the nymphs to his wedding but
tortoise never arrived. When asked why, her
excuse was that she preferred her own home
so Zeus asked Hermes to punish her. He made
her carry her house about forever after.

The curse of Myrtilos manifested itself in the
sordid saga of Pelops’ rival sons Atreus and
Thyestes, and later in the lives of their
children Agamemnon and Aigisthos. When
Atreus and Thyestes were competing for
the throne of Mykenai, Hermes caused a
golden lamb to be born amongst their
flocks, which led directly to a
conflict over the kingdom.

Hermai were boundary or mile-stones
carved with the the head and phallus
of Hermes. They were rural markers
which were also supposed to ensure
the fertility of the herds and
flocks and bring luck. Hermai
were erected at boundaries,
crossroads and in gymnasia.

Plato, Hipparchus (Greek philosopher 4th BC)

THE HIPPOI DIOSKOUROI (Horses of the Dioscuri)
were four immortal steeds gifted to the
Dioskouroi by the gods Hermes and Hera
The horses were named Kyllaros,
Xanthos, Phlogeus
and Harpagos

A woodcutter lost his axe. Not knowing what to do
he sat down on the bank and wept. The god Hermes
took pity on him. He plunged into the river, brough
out a golden axe and asked if this was his. The man
said no. Hermes dived back in and produced a silver
axe. Tthe woodcutter said that wasn’t his axe either.
Hermes plunged in a third time and brought him his
own axe. The man said this was the axe he had lost.
Then Hermes, charmed by his honesty, gave him all
three.

The most dangerous of Hercules labors was the
twelfth and final one. Eurystheus ordered Hercules
to go to the Underworld and kidnap the beast
called Cerberus a vicious beast that guarded
the entrance to Hades and kept the living
from entering the world of the dead.
Hermes led the uncertain hero down
into the dim light of the
underworld.

Pseudo-Apollodorus Greek mythographer 2nd AD

Laodamia was the wife of Protesilaus. After
Protesilaus was killed in the Trojan War he was
allowed with Hermes to return to his wife for only
three hours before returning to the underworld
because they had only just married. He would
appear as a statue to all others

A servant looked through a crack in the door
and saw her holding a man in her embrace and
kissing him. Thinking she had a lover he told
her father. When he came and burst into the
room, he saw the statue of Protesilaus. To
put an end to her torture he had the statue
and the sacred offerings burned on a pyre
he had made, but Laodamia, not enduring
her grief, threw herself on it and
was burned to death.

 

When Zeus commissioned that the first
woman, Pandora, be crafted by the gods,
Hermes bestowed upon her guile and
deceitfulness, and delivered
her to mankind.

Dreams of omen were messages sent by
the gods and the ghosts of the dead.
Hermes presided over these, both in
his role as the Herald of the Gods
(the agent of all divine messages)
the God of Sleep, and as Guide of
the Dead, who traversed the paths
between the lands of the living
and the dead.

Homer, Odyssey (Greek epic 8th BC)

Hermes was described as the inventor of
the tools and implements of shepherds and
herders. From fire-sticks, to withers for
tying animals, and the rural boundary
stones (hermai). He was also the
inventor of the various rustic
arts: the primitive shepherd’s
lyre made from a tortoise-shell,
shepherd’s pipes, and pastoral
poetry and fable

 

Homeric Hymn 4 to Hermes (Greek epic 7th to 4th BC)

Hermes was the god of the birds of omen, birds
despatched from heaven under the divine inspiration
of prophetic Apollon. Only seers, under the god’s
patronage, could distinguish birds of omen from
those “idly-chattering” and interpret their
divine messages. Hermes was heaven’s herald
and so was naturally regarded as the source
of those other winged messengers of
heaven the birds of omen.

Hermes was the god of guile in its many
aspects: including deception, crafty words,
persuasion, and the wiles of thieves and
merchants. He also employed the sleep to
maze the minds of men. See the various
sections below for more information.

 

Hermes was the god of trade and the
patron-god of merchants. He was one of
the deities who presided over the agora
(market square). This was a natural
extension of his role as the god of
animal-husbandry, as cattle, sheep
and goats and their by-products
were brought to market to sell.
Also as the god of thievery,
wiliness, and eloquent speech,
he presided over both skillful
and dubious merchantile actions.

 

Hermes came to be regarded as the god of
language, alongside Mnemosyne (the goddess
of memory). He was said to have been the
inventor of writing, which in ancient
Greece was first employed in the
missives carried by heralds and
the stock-taking of merchants
and property owners.

 

As the god of animal husbandry, Hermes
was also the god of meat and feasting.
Alongside Hestia (goddess of the
hearth) he presided over
the banquet.

Hermes was the god of hospitality and in a
similar vein was also regarded as the protector
of the home, alongside Zeus Herkeios and Hestia
the goddess of the hearth. Shrines to the god
were erected on the doorstep to protect the
sanctity of the home and avert thievery (the
opposite aspect of Hermes)

 

Hermes presided over the rustic art of divination
by pebbles, practised in the highlands of shepherds
and cattle-herders. He was said to have learnt the
art from certain Nymphai known as Thriai, given to
him by Apollon in a trade for the music
of the pipe.

The fourth day of the month was sacred to Hermes,
for that was his day of birth. Likewise the fourth
day of the week (Wednesday) was named after him (in
Greek it was called Hermes’ day, in Latin Mercurius’
day, and in Germanic Woden’s day–the Norse god Woden
-Odin being identified with Hermes -Mercurius). The
seven days of the week correspond to the seven
heavenly bodies (the five visible planets, the
sun and the moon); but the ordering was based
on mythic tradition.

 

Hermes Played by Michael Gwynn in Jason and the
Argonauts 1963
Hermes Played by Murray Keane in Hercules The
Legendary Journeys ep Porkules 1998
Hermes Played by Dylan Neal in Percy Jackson & the
Lightning Thief 2010

Hermes Played by Alexander Siddig in Clash
of the Titans 2010
Hermes Played by John Emmet Tracy in Supernatural,
ep Hammer of the Gods 2010
Hermes Played by Craig Pratsch in Titans
of Newark 2012

Hermes Played by Nathan Fillion in Percy
Jackson: Sea of Monsters 2013
Hermes played by Thomas Bigley in A God
Named Pablo 2015
Hermes Played by Michael Daingerfield “Olympus”
Truth (2015) and Door to Olympus (2015)

Hermes
Messenger of the gods, god of trade, thieves,
travelers, sports, athletes, border crossings,
guide to the Underworld

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. educational and fun.

  2. What a character

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