As within the case of the opposite Greek gods, many etymologies have been proposed for the title Hermes. Some recommend a reference to the Vedic Sarameya, derived from Sarama, god of the storm or of the daybreak; others relate Hermes to a Greek phrase which conveys the concept of motion; nonetheless others-considering of the early representations of the god - recommend the phrase for 'stone' or 'rock', and additionally the verb which suggests 'to defend'.
Hermes Character and Functions
Certain particulars of Hermes' legend recommend that he was both a god of the twilight or of the wind. Such are his beginning, his theft of Apollo's heifers - analogous to the cows of the Vedic Indra, which personified the clouds - the parable of his slaying Argus, later thought to clarify the epithet Argephontes, a possible deformation of Argeiphanies, 'he makes the sky clear'. It is, nonetheless, extra possible that Hermes was a really historical Pelasgian divinity, of Thracian origin, who was significantly honoured by the shepherds of Arcadia and whose mission was to watch over their flocks and defend their huts. From this likely arose the Greek behavior of putting on the doorways of homes a roughly crude picture of this god. The Dorian invasion lessened the status of Hermes. Apollo Nomius took his place, and the primitive Hermes of the shepherds and of animal fertility took on one other character.
Hermes was above all regarded as the god of travellers, whom he guided on their perilous methods. His photographs had been placed the place nation roads branche d and at crossroads in cities. It is no doubt a pure extension of this position that Hermes was additionally charged with conducting the souls of the useless to the underworld. Unless, certainly, this Hermes Psvchopompus (conductor of souls), who is typically differentiated from the celestial Hermes, was not an alternative to some older subterranean divinity, a sort of Zeus Plulos.
Since in primitive occasions voyages had been scarcely undertaken aside from commerical functions, Hermes was consequently the god of commerce, the god of revenue - lawful and illegal - and the god of video games of probability. And, since shopping for and promoting require a lot dialogue, and the artwork of the dealer is to overcome the client's
hesitation by refined and persuasive phrases, Hermes turned the god of eloquence, the god Logics. To these varied features Hermes added that of being the messenger of Zeus. This is how he seems in Homer, the place he's certified with the epithet Diactoros (the messenger). He comes to earth ceaselessly with orders from the king of the gods and undertakes probably the most delicate missions. In Hesiod, Hermes is the god who brings to males's hearts the impressions and sentiments which Zeus has impressed.
This indefatigable runner may scarcely fail to be honoured by athletes. Thus he had the epithet Agonios, 'who presides over contests', particularly in Boeotia. His statue stood on the entrance to the stadium at Olympia, and to him was attributed the invention of pugilism and racing. Representations. The basic side of Hermes is that of an athlete-god. In primitive occasions he had been represented as a mature man with a thick, lengthy beard, his hair sure with a fillet and falling in curls to his shoulders. Afterwards he turned the idealised kind of the ephebe or younger gymnast, with lithe and swish physique. His hair is brief and crisp, his options effective; he carries his head barely inclined as if listening with pleasant curiosity. His nervous and supple physique is essentially uncovered by the chlamys tossed over his shoulder or wound spherical his left arm. He usually wears a spherical, winged hat - a petasus - and on his ft there are winged sandals. In his hand he holds a winged workers round which serpents are entwined; that is the caduceus.
The Theft of Apollo's Heifers
Hermes, son of Zeus and Maia, was born within the depths of a cave on Mount Cyllene in Arcadia. On the very day of his beginning Hermes displayed his mischievous humour by stealing the cattle which had been confided to the care of Apollo. Sneaking furtively from his cradle, the toddler god climbed the mountains of Pieria, the place he discovered the divine herd. From it he separated fifty lowing heifers which he drove earlier than him underneath cowl of the night time to the banks of the Alpheus. He made them stroll backwards in order that their hoofmarks shouldn't betray the route they'd taken. He himself had cautiously put monumental sandals of tamarisk and myeartle twigs on his delicate ft. Before shutting up the heifers in a cavern he picked out two of the fattest and, having ingeniously produced fireplace by rubbing twigs of laurel collectively, he roasted them, dividing the flesh into twelve equal parts in honour of the twelve nice gods. After which he regained the heights of Cyllene, re-entered his cave by the keyhole, 'like vapour or a breath of autumn', and crawled into his cradle once more. On the next day Apollo observed the disappearance of his heifers. He grasped - by divination - what had occurred and went directly to Cyllene, the place Hermes stubbornly denied all information of the theft. Apollo seized the toddler in his arms and carried him to the tribunal of Zeus on Olympus. The grasp of the gods couldn't however snigger on the crafty of his new-born youngster however, as he additionally cherished Apollo, he instructed Hermes to return the heifers. 'The two good-looking sons of Zeus then hastened to sandy Pylus, close to the ford of the Alpheus, and they reached the fields and the tall secure the place the objects of the theft had been shut in at dusk.'
The Invention of the Lyeare
Reconciliation between the 2 gods was accomplished by the present Hermes made to Apollo of a musical instrument he had ingeniously devised. When he had set out on his nocturnal journey, Hermes discovered a tortoise in his path. He picked it up and, with a shiny chisel, emptied the shell. Around it he stretched oxhide with the help of reeds and organized over a bridge seven strings constituted of sheep intestine which then gave out harmonious sounds. It was the primary lyeare.
When Apollo, nonetheless irritated by the theft of his heifers continued bitterly to reproach him, Hermes struck the strings of the instrument he had simply usual. Apollo was charmed by the sound and his anger died - 'whereas the pleasant sound of the divine music penetrated his senses, a candy want took possession of him'.
Hermes beted that Apollo coveted the lyeare and spontaneously gave it to him. In trade Apollo gave Hermes a shiny whip or a golden wand - a prototype of the caduceus - and entrusted him with the care of the celestial herd. From then on Apollo turned the god of music and Hermes the protector of flocks and herds. The friendship of the 2 gods was by no means damaged. On many events Hermes was of service to Apollo and, particularly, took cost at their beginning of a number of of Apollo's kids.
The Good Offices of Hermes
In spite of his malicious pranks Hermes gained the sympathy of all of the gods. Even the vindictive Hera forgot her jealousy the place Hermes was involved. Alone among the many illegitimate kids of Zeus, the son of Maia discovered favour along with her and the august goddess even consented to suckle him.
Hermes was at all times keen to be useful, and his ingenuity made him a invaluable ally. During die conflict in opposition to the giants he placed on the helmet of Hades - which made him invisible - and killed the large Hippolytus. We have already seen how he freed Zeus, when Zeus was a prisoner of Typhoeus. He restored Zeus' strerigth by changing the nerves which the large had minimize. During Zeus' amorous adventures, Hermes' support was invaluable: he put the large Argus to sleep with the sound of his flute and then, so as to free lo, killed him. When Dionysus was born it was Hermes who carried the kid to Orchomenus and delivered him into the arms of Ino, Semele's sister. Zeus furthermore made him his messenger. In order quickly to cross the celestial areas Hermes wore winged sandals which bore him 'over the watery sea or over the huge earth like a breath of wind'. To support his flight he generally added wings to his hat.
When Ares fell into the arms of the Aloadae and was stored captive for 13 months with out anybody's figuring out the place of his captivity, it was Hermes who lastly found his jail and set him free. Again it was Hermes who, with the assistance of Iris, discovered within the abode of Tantalus the golden canine Pandareus had stolen from Zeus.
Hermes' safety was additionally prolonged to heroes: when Perseus faltered he restored his braveness, and he accompanied Hercules throughout his descent to the underworld.
Hermes was a benefactor of mankind, and protected their flocks, guided them on their voyages, presided over their business affairs and impressed in them melodious speech and eloquence. Often he additionally took a direct half of their affairs. He plunged the Greeks into deep slumber with the help of his magic wand 'with which he made drowsy the eyes of mortals or, if he so desired, roused them from sleep'. In doing this he made it potential for Priam to deliver the physique of his son Hector again into the partitions of Troy. He gave Odysseus a magic plant which made him immune to the enchantments of Circe. We even see him sooner or later, when the Euboeans had been making ready to assault town of Tanagra, put himself on the head of the youths of that metropolis so as to repel the invaders.
Hermes, as we have now seen, was additionally involved with the underworld; for it was he who carried out the souls of the useless to their closing dwelling-place. For this motive he was known as Psychopompus. Homer reveals us the souls of Penelope's suitors slain by Odysseus as they fly after Hermes, rustling like bats, till they attain the 'fields of asphodel the place dwell the phantoms of those that are now not'. Hermes may additionally lead again the souls of the useless into the world of sunshine. When Tantalus minimize his personal son into items and served them as a feast for the gods, Hermes, on the directions of Zeus, re-assembled the items and restored the younger man to life. Hermes additionally accompanied Orpheus on his seek for Eurydice.
The Sons of Hermes
Hermes, like the opposite gods, had many amorous adventures. Among the goddesses he was, it seems, the lover of Persephone, Hecate and Aphrodite. Among nymphs, whom he pursued within the shady depths of forests, his conquests had been wider. By them he had a quite a few progeny amongst whom it's enough to point out: Saon, son of the nymph Phene, whocolonised Samothrace; Polydorus, son of the Thessalian nymph Polymele; Daphnis, the gorgeous and sad shepherd of Sicily, who was born within the neighbourhood of Etna; and above all Pan, the country god of Arcadia. While tending the flocks of Dryops on the slopes of Mount Cyllene, Hermes noticed Dryops' daughter and cherished her. She introduced into the world a son who was coated with hair and had the horns and ft of a goat. In horror she deserted him, however Hermes picked him up, wrapped him within the pores and skin of a hare and then carried him to Olympus the place the gods delighted within the spectacle. According to one other custom, Pan was the son of a mortal, Penelope, whom Hermes got here to within the guise of a he-goat.
Among the mortals whom Hermes cherished had been Acacallis, daughter of Minos, whom he made mom of Cydon, founding father of the Cretan city of Cydonia, and Chione, who additionally bore him a son, Autolycus. Autolycus acquired from his father the present of rendering what he touched invisible. In this manner he was in a position to commit quite a few thefts till sooner or later Sisyphus, whose oxen he had stolen, caught him. Another son of Hermes was Myeartilus, who was killed by Pelops: the god avenged himself on the assassin's descendants.