MYTH MAN'S AWARD-WINNING HOMEWORK HELP
CLEVER HERMES, MESSENGER GOD
LATIN - MERCURY, MERCURIUS
The Petassos, a wide-brimmed
traveling hat, which in later times was adorned with two small wings.
Hermes is the son of Zeus and Maia, daughter of the Titan Atlas, and was
born in a cave on mount Cyllene in Arcadia. That's why he is often
called Atlantiades or Cyllenius.
He is the fastest of the gods, and his position was as messenger to Zeus and all the other gods. He was also the Divine Herald, the solemn guide who knew the road to hell and would lead the souls of the dead down to the Underworld, after Thanatos (Death) did his job. That's why he was also called Psychopompus, a name given to him for being the guide of souls to the Underworld.
Hermes is also the Greek god of Commerce and the Market, and thus the patron of traders, merchants and thieves. His distinguishing qualities were cunning, ingenuity, knowledge and creativity.
His realm included Gymnastics; he was the patron of all gymnastic games in Greece, and gymnasia were under his protection. The Greek artists derived their ideal of the god from the gymnasium and thus they represented Hermes as a handsome youth with beautiful limbs harmoniously developed by athletic exercises and gymnastic excellence.
Believed to be the inventor of sacrifices, Hermes was the protector of sacrificial animals. He is often mentioned in connection with Pan and the Nymphs, who were spirits of nature, and the shepherds worshipped him.
This versatile god had a hand even in administering Good Luck, presiding over games of chance such as dice. He was also the shrewdest and most cunning of all the gods, the master thief who began his career before he was one day old, by stealing Apollo’s herds.
A few hours after his birth the mischievous infant escaped from his cradle and traveled to Pieria, where he saw the splendid herds of Apollo and decided to take them. Carrying off some of the finest of his half-brother's renowned cattle, the infant Hermes returned to his native Arcadia.
The cunning child made the cattle walk backwards to obscure their tracks! He bribed a man named Battus, who had seen him, to be silent. Sacrificing two of the stolen animals, he divided them into twelve parts for the twelve great gods of Mount Olympus, hiding the rest of the herd.
It was this cheeky and brazen theft that won young Hermes recognition as a god himself.
Finding a tortoise outside his cave, Hermes further displayed his godly talent by placing strings across its shell, thus inventing the lyre. He sat there sweetly playing this marvelous new instrument, happy as a baby god could be. Meanwhile Apollo, using his prophetic powers (not to mention the fact that Battus did not keep his word, but had revealed the secret), had discovered the identity of the cattle thief and promptly arrived at Cyllene, confronting baby Hermes and charging him with the crime.
He said: "Child, lying in the cradle, make haste and tell me of my cattle, or we two will soon fall out angrily. For I will take and cast you into dusky Tartarus and awful hopeless darkness, and neither your mother nor your father shall free you." (Apollo to Hermes - Homeric Hymn to Hermes.)
The child's mother, Maia, was perplexed at Apollo's accusation of her son, and pointed out the infant snug in his cradle, innocently sleeping like a baby. There's no way such a sweet child could perpetrate the crime he was accused of, Maia said.
Apollo would have none of that, and he carried the baby to Zeus, who judged the infant guilty as charged and ruled that Hermes would have to return the stolen cattle to their rightful owner. But just then Hermes began to play on the lyre he had crafted, and Apollo was so charmed by the exquisite sound that the god of music allowed the child to keep the animals. Hermes in turn gifted the lyre to Apollo, and in no time the two were good friends.
Hermes, in his role as Messenger God, took part in many myths and was employed by all the gods, particularly Zeus, on a number of occasions. He was the one who:
As the Herald of the gods,
Hermes was worshipped as the god of the roads, who protected travelers.
Many statues, called Hermae, were
erected on roads, and at doors and gates.
Some of his other children included:
From Homer's Odyssey:
"Hermes, god of Cyllene, called the souls of the suitors to him. In his hand he held the beautiful golden wand which he used at will to close the eyes of humans or to waken them from sleep. With his wand he led the troop and the souls followed, emitting little squeaks. In the depths of the caves, bats flew away with little squeaks when one of them, hanging from a rock, lost his grip."
The worship of Hermes began in Arcadia, his birth place, and was carried to Athens, ultimately spreading throughout Greece.
The festivals called the Hermaea were instituted in his honor. Sacrifices offered to him included honey, incense, cakes, pigs, lambs and young goats.
Objects sacred to Hermes included the palm tree, the tortoise, the number four, and several kinds of fish.