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Hermes the Greek God of Commerce Equivalent of Roman God Mercury
So-called "Logios Hermes" (Hermes,Orator). Marble, Roman copy from the late 1st century BC - early 2nd century AD after a Greek original of the 5th century BC.
Messenger of the gods
God of commerce, thieves, travelers, sports, athletes, and border crossings, fish, guide to the Underworld
|Symbol||Caduceus, Talaria, Tortoise, Lyre,Rooster, Snake|
|Consort||Merope, Aphrodite, Dryope, Peitho|
|Parents||Zeus and Maia|
|Children||Pan, Hermaphroditus, Tyche,Abderus, Autolycus, and Angelia|
Hermes was a god of transitions and boundaries. He was quick and cunning, and moved freely between the worlds of the mortal and divine, as emissary and messenger of the gods, intercessor between mortals and the divine, and conductor of souls into the afterlife. He was protector and patron of travelers, herdsmen, thieves, orators and wit, literature and poets, athletics and sports, invention and trade. In some myths he is a trickster, and outwits other gods for his own satisfaction or the sake of humankind. His attributes and symbols include the herma, the rooster and the tortoise, purse or pouch, winged sandals, winged cap, and his main symbol was the herald's staff, the Greek kerykeion or Latin caduceus which consisted of two snakes wrapped around a winged staff.
In the Roman adaptation of the Greek pantheon (see interpretatio romana), Hermes was identified with the Roman god Mercury, who, though inherited from the Etruscans, developed many similar characteristics, such as being the patron of commerce.
The earliest form of the name Hermes is the Mycenaean Greek *e-ma-a2 , written in Linear B syllabic script. Most scholars derive "Hermes" from Greek herma (a stone, roadside shrine or boundary marker), dedicated to Hermes as a god of travelers and boundaries; the etymology ofherma itself is unknown. "Hermes" may be related to Greek hermeneus ("the interpreter"), reflecting Hermes' function as divine messenger. Plato offers a Socratic folk-etymology for Hermes' name, deriving it from the divine messenger's reliance on eirein (the power of speech). Scholarly speculation that "Hermes" derives from a more primitive form meaning "one cairn" is disputed. The word "hermeneutics", the study and theory of interpretation, is derived from hermeneus. In Greek a lucky find was a hermaion.
Homer and Hesiod portrayed Hermes as the author of skilled or deceptive acts, and also as a benefactor of mortals. In the Iliad 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 when he went to the Greek camp to retrieve the body of his son Hector. When Priam got it, Hermes took them back to Troy.
He also rescued Ares from a brazen vessel where he had been imprisoned by Otus and Ephialtes. In the Odyssey he helped his great-grand son, the protagonist, Odysseus, informing him about the fate of his companions, who were turned into animals by the power of Circe, and instructed him to protect himself by chewing a magic herb; he also told Calypso 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 led their souls to Hades. In The Works and Days, when Zeus ordered Hephaestus to create Pandora 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.
Many other myths feature Hermes. Aeschylus wrote that Hermes helped Orestes kill Clytemnestra 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 wrote that Odysseus invoked him when he needed to convince Philoctetes to join the Trojan War on the side of the Greeks, and Euripides did appear to help in spy Dolon Greek navy.
Aesop, who allegedly received his literary talents from Hermes, featured him in several of his fables, as ruler of the gate of prophetic dreams, as the god of athletes, of edible roots, and of 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.
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." Hermes, as an inventor of fire, is a parallel of the Titan, Prometheus. In addition to the lyre, Hermes was believed to have invented many types of racing and the sports of wrestling and boxing, and therefore was a patron of athletes.
Several writers of the Hellenistic period expanded the list of Hermes’ achievements. Callimachus said he disguised himself as a cyclops to scare the Oceanides 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 said he was invoked to ward off ghosts, and Pseudo-Apollodorus reported several events involving Hermes. He participated in the Gigantomachy in defense of Olympus; was given the task of bringing baby Dionysus to be cared for by Ino and Athamas and later by nymphs of Asia, followed Hera, Athena and Aphrodite in a beauty contest; favored the young Hercules by giving him a sword when he finished his education and lent his sandals to Perseus. The Thracian princes identified him with their god Zalmoxis, considering his ancestor.
I Hermes stand here at the crossroads by the wind beaten orchard, near the hoary grey coast; and I keep a resting place for weary men. And the cool stainless spring gushes out.
called Hermes of the Ways after the patronage of travellers.
Hermes' epithet Ἀργειφόντης Argeiphontes (Latin: Argicida), meaning "Argus-slayer", recalls his slaying of the hundred-eyed giant Argus Panoptes, who was watching over the heifer-nymph Io in the sanctuary of Queen Hera herself in Argos. Hermes placed a charm on Argus's eyes with the caduceus to cause the giant to sleep, after this he slew the giant. Argus' eyes were then put into the tail of the peacock, symbol of the goddess Hera.
... Oh mighty messenger of the gods of the upper and lower worlds ... (Aeschylus).
Explicitly, at least in sources of classical writings, of Euripides Electra and Iphigenia in Aulis and in Epictetus Discourses. According to Blackwood's Edinburgh magazine (1849) the chief office of the God was as messenger.
the factor of travelling or motion with or without others with respect to the physical landscape, or the landscape of the soul , is the core attribute of the god as messenger and guide
and deception (Euripides) and (possibly evil) tricks and trickeries, crafty (from lit. god of craft), the cheat, god of stealth and of cunning, (see also to act secretively as kleptein in reference - EL Wheeler), of treachery, the schemer, wily, was worshipped at Pellene [Pausanias, vii. 27, 1]), and invoked through Odysseus.
(As the ways of gain are not always the ways of honesty and straightforwardness, Hermes obtains a bad character and an in-moral (amoral [ed.]) cult as Dolios)—
Hermes is amoral like a baby. although Zeus sent Hermes as a teacher to humanity to teach them knowledge of and value of justice and to improve inter-personal relationships ("bonding between mortals").
Other epithets included:
Prior to being known as Hermes, Frothingham thought the god to have existed as a snake-god. Angelo (1997) thinks Hermes to be based on the Thoth archetype. The absorbing ("combining") of the attributes of Hermes to Thoth developed after the time of Homer amongst Greek and Roman; Herodotus was the first to identify the Greek god with the Egyptian (Hermopolis), Plutarch and Diodorus also, although Plato thought the gods to be dis-similar (Friedlander 1992).
A 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, reconciliation, magic,sacrifices, and initiation and contact with other planes of existence, a role of mediator between the worlds of the visible and invisible.
During the 3rd century BC, a communication between Petosiris (a priest) to King Nechopso, probably written in Alexandria c. 150 BC, states Hermes is the teacher of all secret wisdoms available to knowing by the experience of religious ecstasy.
Due to his constant mobility, he was considered the god of commerce 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, 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, Hermes carried the souls of the dead to Hades, and directed the dreams sent by Zeus to mortals.
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 then 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, temples were 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 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. His statue was held there on an altar dedicated to him and Apollo together. A temple within the Aventinewas consecrated in 495 BC.
Symbols of Hermes were the palm tree, turtle, rooster, goat, the number four, several kinds of fish, incense. Sacrifices involved honey, cakes, pigs, goats, and lambs. 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 they had been bathed at birth.
Hermes’ feast was the special Hermaea was celebrated with sacrifices to the god and with athletics and gymnastics, possibly having been established in the 6th century BC, but no documentation on the festival before the 4th century BC survives. However, Plato said that Socrates attended a Hermaea. Of all the festivals involving Greek games, these were the most like initiations because participation in them was restricted to young boys and excluded adults.
In Ancient Greece, Hermes was a phallic god of boundaries. His name, in the form herma, 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, replaced the cairns that marked the midway point between each village deme at the central agora of Athens with a square or rectangular pillar of stone or bronze topped by a bust of Hermes with a beard. An erectphallus rose from the base. In the more primitive Mount Kyllini 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 god is astounding," Walter Burkert remarked.
In 415 BCE, when the Athenian fleet was about to set sail for Syracuse during the Peloponnesian War, 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' pupil Alcibiades was suspected of involvement, and Socrates indirectly paid for the impiety with his life.
The satyr-like Greek god of nature, shepherds and flocks, Pan, could possibly be the son of Hermes through the nymph Dryope. In the Homeric Hymn to Pan, Pan's mother fled in fright from her newborn son's goat-like appearance
Depending on the sources consulted, the god Priapus could be understood as a son of Hermes.