HERMES PAGE TWO
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:
the goddesses Aphrodite, Hera and Athena to the shepherd Paris,
who judged that Aphrodite was the most beautiful, causing the
Ixion's hands and feet to the wheel, which is said to roll
perpetually in the air.
Trojan King Priam to the tent of Achilles to fetch the body of
his dead son, Hector.
Odysseus moly, the magic plant which offered protection against
enchantment by a witch.
the Golden-Fleeced ram to Nephele, in order to save her children
Phrixus and Helle.
Hades' helmet of invisibility to the hero Perseus in order to
help him slay Medusa.
from the flames baby Dionysus, god of wine, following his birth.
back Zeus' sinews, which the monster Typhon had stolen,
rendering Zeus helpless.
the war god Ares from the bronze jar in which he had been
imprisoned during the Olympians' battle versus the Giants.
this same Giants revolt, Hermes, wearing Hades' helmet of
invisibility, killed the giant Hippolytus.
the hero Heracles (Hercules) to Queen Omphale.
Io, one of Zeus' lovers, who had been transformed into a cow and
was guarded by Argus, the 100-eyed giant. Hermes slew Argus and
set Io free. Hermes is sometimes called Argiphontes, for having
killed the All-seeing Argus.
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.
The Messenger god was also the god of eloquence, since the
heralds historically are the public speakers in assemblies and
on other occasions that require talking in front of people.
Thus Hermes was also the god of prudence and cunning, both in
words and deeds, and even of fraud, theft and perjury. His
shrewd and creative character led many to claim that he invented
objects such as the lyre and syrinx, the alphabet, astronomy,
music, boxing, gymnastics, the cultivation of the olive tree,
measures, weights and many other things.
PRINCIPAL SYMBOLS AND ATTRIBUTES
Petassos, a wide-brimmed traveling hat, which in later times was
adorned with two small wings.
herald's staff, called KERYKEION in Greek, or CADUCEUS in Latin,
given to Hermes by Apollo.
white ribbons surrounding the staff were changed into two
serpents by later artists.
sandals that carried him across land and water faster than the
wind. They had wings attached to the ankles.
HERMES WORSHIP AND FESTIVALS
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.
With Chione (or Philonis), daughter of King Deadalion, Hermes
had Autolycus, who was the grandfather of Odysseus. Hermes gave
his son the gift of being such a skilful thief that he could not
be caught, making him able to change whatever he stole into some
other form or color.
Some of his other children include:
Half-man/half-woman Hermaphroditus, from his union with
Argonauts Aethalides, Echion and Eurytus
Heracles' lover Danae's grandfather
Cephalus, from his union with Herse
Herse's sister, Aglaurus, he had Ceryx
phallic deity Priapus, with an unknown mother
Pan, according to some later poets.
the nymph Sose he had Agreus, who was in Dionysus' retinue
offspring of Hermes in the service of Dionysus included Lycus,
Nomius, Pherespondus and Pronomus
Alcidamea he sired Bunus, who became King of Corinth
[home] [page one]