HERMES , aGreek
See also:god, identified by the Romans with Mercury . The derivation of his name and his
See also:primitive character are very uncertain . The earliest centres of his cult were
See also:Arcadia, where Mt .
See also:Cyllene was reputed to be his birthplace, the islands of
See also:Imbros and
See also:Samothrace, in which he was associated with the Cabeiri and
See also:Attica . In Arcadia he was specially worshipped as the god of fertility, and his images were ithyphallic, as also were the "
See also:Hermae " at Athens .
See also:Herodotus (ii . 51) states that the Athenians borrowed this type from the
See also:Pelasgians, thus testifying to the
See also:great antiquity of the phallic Hermes . At Cyllene in Ells a mere phallus served as his emblem, and was highly venerated in the
See also:time of
See also:Pausanias (vi . 26 . 3) . Both in literature and cult Hermes was constantly associated with the
See also:protection of
See also:cattle and
See also:sheep; at Tanagra and elsewhere his title was Kptor6pos, the ram-
See also:bearer . As a pastoral god he was often closely connected with deities of vegetation, especially
See also:Pan and the
See also:nymphs .
His pastoral character is recognized in the 'Note the
See also:prestige of martyrs and confessors, the ways of true and false prophets in Mand. xi., and the different types of evil and
See also:good " walk " among Christians, e.g. in Vis. iii . 5-7 ; Mand. viii . ; Sim. viii . Iliad (xiv . 490) and the later epic hymn to Hermes; and his Homeric titles aK&K71ra, Eptouvtos, &rrwp Mwv, probably refer to him as the giver of fertility . In the Odyssey, however, he appears mainly as the messenger of the gods, and the conductor of the dead to Hades . Hence in later times he is often represented in
See also:art and
See also:mythology as a
See also:herald . The conductor of souls was naturally a chthonian god; at Athens there was a festival in
See also:honour of Hermes and the souls of the dead, and
See also:Aeschylus (Persae, 628) invokes Hermes, with
See also:Earth and Hades, in summoning a spirit from the underworld . The
See also:function of a messenger-god may have originated the conception of Hermes as a dream-god; he is called the " conductor of dreams " (iryirrwp Opel paw), and the Greeks offered to him the last
See also:libation before sleep . As a messenger he may also have become the god of roads and
See also:door-ways; he was the
See also:protector of travellers and his images were •used for boundary-marks (see HERMAE) . It was a
See also:custom to make a
See also:cairn of stones near the wayside statues of Hermes, each passer-by adding a
See also:stone; the significance of the practice; which is found in many countries, is discussed by Frazer (
See also:Golden Bough, and ed., iii. to f.) and Hartland (
See also:Legend of
See also:Perseus, ii . 228) .
Treasure found in the road (tpµatov) was the
See also:gift of Hermes, and any stroke of good
See also:luck was attributed to him; but it may be doubted whether his patronage of luck in general was
See also:developed from his function as a god of roads . As the giver of luck he became a deity of gain and commerce (KepSmos, a'yopaios), an aspect which caused his
See also:identification with Mercury, the
See also:Roman god of
See also:trade . From this conception his thievish character may have been evolved . The trickery and cunning of Hermes is a prominent theme in literature from
See also:Homer downwards, although it is very rarely recognized in official cult.2 In the hymn to Hermes the god figures as a precocious
See also:child (a type
See also:familiar in folk-lore), who when a new-
See also:born babe steals the cows of
See also:Apollo . In addition to these characteristics various other functions were assigned to Hermes, who developed, perhaps, into the most
See also:complete type of the versatile Greek . In many respects he was a counterpart of Apollo, less dignified and powerful, but more human than his greater
See also:brother . Hermes was a
See also:patron of
See also:music, like Apollo, and invented the cithara; he presided over the
See also:games, with Apollo and Heracles, and his statues were
See also:common in the stadia and gymnasia . He became, in fact, the ideal Greek youth, equally proficient in the " musical " and " gymnastic " branches of Greek
See also:education . On the " musical " side he was the
See also:special patron of eloquence (Myws); in gymnastic, he was the giver of
See also:grace rather than of strength, which was the province of Heracles . Though athletic, he was one of the least militant of the gods; a title 7rpb iaxor, the Defender, is found only in connexion with a victory of
See also:young men (" ephebes ") in a
See also:battle at Tanagra . A further point of contact between Hermes and Apollo may here be noted: both had prophetic
See also:powers, although Hermes held a place far inferior to that of the Pythian god, and possessed no famous
See also:oracle . Certain forms of popular divination were, however, under his patronage, notably the
See also:process of divination by pebbles (Optat) .
The " Homeric " Hymn to Hermes explains theseminor gifts of prophecy as delegated by Apollo, who alone knew the mind of
See also:Zeus . Only a single oracle is recorded for Hermes, in the market-place of Pharae in
See also:Achaea, and here the procedure was akin to popular divination . An
See also:altar, furnished with lamps, was placed before the statue; the inquirer, after
See also:lighting the lamps and offering
See also:incense, placed a
See also:coin in the right
See also:hand of the god; he then whispered his question into the ear of the statue, and, stopping his own ears,
See also:left the market place . The first sound which he heard outside was an
See also:omen . ' From the foregoing account it will be seen that it is difficult to derive the many-sided character of Hermes from a single elemental conception . The various theories which identified him with the
See also:sun, the
See also:moon or the
See also:dawn, may be dismissed, as they do not
See also:rest on evidence to which value would now be attached . The Arcadian or " Pelasgic " Hermes may have been an earth-deity, as his connexion with fertility suggests; but his
See also:symbol at Cyllene 2 We only hear of a Hermes Saws at Pellene (Paus. vii . 27 . I) and of the custom of allowing promiscuous thieving during the festival of Hermes at
See also:Samos (Plut . Quaest . Graec . 55) .
rather points to a mere personification of reproductive powers . According toPlutarch the ancients " set Hermes by the side of
See also:Aphrodite," i.e. the male,and
See also:female principles of generation; and the two deities were worshipped together in
See also:Argos and else-where . But this phallic character does not explain other aspects of Hermes, as the messenger-god, the
See also:master-thief or the ideal Greek ephebe . It is impossible to adopt the view that the Homeric poets turned the
See also:rude shepherd-god of Arcadia into a messenger, in
See also:order to provide him with a place in the Olympian circle . To their Achaean
See also:audience Hermes must have been more than a phallic god . It is more probable that the Olympian Hermes represents the
See also:fusion of several distinct deities . Some scholars hold that the various functions of Hermes may have originated from the idea of good luck which is so closely bound up with his character . As a pastoral god he would give luck to the flocks and herds; when worshipped by townspeople, he would give luck to the
See also:merchant, the orator, the traveller and the athlete . But though the notion of luck plays an important
See also:part in early thought, it seems improbable that the primitive Greeks would have personified a mere
See also:abstraction . Another theory, which has much to commend it, has been advanced by Roscher, who
See also:sees in Hermes a
See also:wind-god . His strongest arguments are that the wind would easily develop into the messenger of the gods (Au oupos), and that it was often thought to promote fertility in crops and cattle . Thus the two aspects of Hermes which seem most discordant are referred to a single origin .
The Homeric epithet 'Apyeidbvriis, which the Greeks interpreted as " the slayer of
See also:Argus," inventing a myth to account for Argus, is explained as originally an epithet of the wind (apye rr? s), which dears away the mists (apybs, 4aivw) . The uncertainty of the wind might well suggest the trickery of a thief, and its whistling might contain the germ from which a god of music should be developed . But many of Roscher's arguments are forced, and his method of
See also:interpretation is not altogether sound . For example, the last
See also:argument would equally apply to Apollo, and would lead to the improbable conclusion that Apollo was a wind-god . It must, in fact, be remembered that men make their gods after their own likeness; and, whatever his origin, Hermes in particular was endowed with many of the qualities and habits of the Greek
See also:race . If he was evolved from the wind, his character had become so anthropomorphic that the Greeks had practically lost the knowledge of his primitive significance; nor did Greek cult ever associate him with the wind . The
See also:form under which Hermes was represented was that of the Hermae mentioned above .
See also:Alcamenes, the
See also:rival or
See also:pupil of
See also:Pheidias, was the sculptor of a herm at Athens, a copy of which, dating from Roman times, was discovered at
See also:Pergamum in 1903 . But side by side with the Hermae there
See also:grew up a more anthropomorphic conception of the god . In archaic art he was portrayed as a full-grown and bearded man, clothed in a long
See also:chiton, and often wearing a cap (Kuvi) or a broad-brimmed
See also:hat (9rErauoc), and winged boots . Sometimes he was represented in his pastoral character, as when he bears a sheep on his shoulders; at other times he appears as the messenger or herald of the gods with the K71pVK€Zov, or herald's
See also:staff, which is his most frequent attribute . From the latter part of the 5th century his art-type was changed in conformity with the general development of Greek sculpture .
He now became a nude and beardless youth, the type of the young athlete . In the 4th century this type was probably fixed by
See also:Praxiteles in his statue of Hermes at
See also:Olympia .
HERMENEUTICS (Gr. Epµ-qvevrtKri, sc. 7E)(141, Lat....
HERMES TRISMEGISTUS (" the thrice greatest Hermes "...
There are no comments yet for this article.
Do not copy, download, transfer, or otherwise replicate the site content in whole or in part.
Links to articles and home page are encouraged.