Hermes Messenger Of The Gods  

Posted by Stella Clark

Hermes Messenger Of The Gods Cover
HERMES, messenger of the gods, was the son of the god Zeus and of Maia, the daughter of the Titan Atlas. A prankster and inventive genius from birth, Hermes aided the heroes Odysseus and Perseus in their quests. Hermes was the son Zeus and a mountain nymph. As a newborn he was remarkably precocious. On his very first day of life, he found the empty shell of a tortoise and perceived its utility as a sounding chamber. Stringing sinews across it, he created the first lyre.

In a related capacity, he brought the dead to the Underworld in his role of "Psychopompos". Zeus made his thieving son Hermes god of commerce. Hermes invented various devices, especially musical ones, and possibly fire. He is known as a helpful god. As the special servant and courier of Zeus, Hermes had winged sandals and a winged hat and bore a golden Caduceus, or magic wand, entwined with snakes and surmounted by wings. He conducted the souls of the dead to the underworld and was believed to possess magical powers over sleep and dreams. Hermes was also the god of commerce, and the protector of traders and herds. As the deity of athletes, he protected gymnasiums and stadiums and was believed to be responsible for both good luck and wealth. Despite his virtuous characteristics, Hermes was also a dangerous foe, a trickster, and a thief.

On the day of his birth he stole the cattle of his brother, the sun god Apollo, obscuring their trail by making the herd walk backward. When confronted by Apollo, Hermes denied the theft. The brothers were finally reconciled when Hermes gave Apollo his newly invented lyre.

Hermes' union with Aphrodite produced Hermaphroditus. It may have yielded Eros, Tyche, and perhaps Priapus. His union with a nymph, perhaps Callisto, produced Pan. He also sired Autolycus and Myrtilus. There are other possible children. Hermes was represented in early Greek art as a mature, bearded man; in classical art he became an athletic youth, nude and beardless.

Hermes was known for his helpfulness to mankind, both in his capacity as immortal herald and on his own initiative. When Perseus set out to face the Gorgon Medusa, Hermes aided him in the quest. According to one version of the myth, he loaned the hero his own magic sandals, which conferred upon the wearer the ability to fly.

Some say that Hermes loaned Perseus a helmet of invisibility as well. Also known as the helmet of darkness, this was the same headgear that Hermes himself had worn when he vanquished the giant Hippolytus. This was on the occasion when the gargantuan sons of Earth rose up in revolt against the gods of Olympus.

Hermes' symbol of office as divine messenger was his staff, or caduceus. This was originally a willow wand with entwined ribbons, traditional badge of the herald. But the ribbons were eventually depicted as snakes. To support this mythologically, a story evolved that Hermes used the caduceus to separate two fighting snakes which forthwith twined themselves together in peace.

It was Hermes' job to convey dead souls to the Underworld. And as patron of travelers, he was often shown in a wide-brimmed sun hat of straw. Hermes was known to the Romans as Mercury. His most famous depiction, a statue by Bellini, shows him alight on one foot, wings at his heels, the snaky caduceus in hand and, on his head, a rather stylized combination helmet-of-darkness and sun hat.

Hermes's Attributes:

Hermes is sometimes shown as young and sometimes bearded. He wears a hat, winged sandals, and short cloak. Hermes has a tortoise-shell lyre and the staff of a shepherd. In his role as psychopompos, Hermes is the "herdsman" of the dead. Hermes is referred to as luck-bringing (messenger), giver of grace, and the Slayer of Argus.

Hermes's Powers:

Hermes is called Psychopompos (Herdsman of the dead or guider of souls), messenger, patron of travelers and athletics, bringer of sleep and dreams, thief, trickster. Hermes is a god of commerce and music. Hermes is the messenger or Herald of the gods and was known for his cunning and as a thief from the day of his birth. Hermes is the father of Pan and Autolycus.

Hermes's Sources:

Ancient sources for Hades include: Aeschylus, Apollodorus, Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Diodorus Siculus, Euripides, Hesiod, Homer, Hyginus, Ovid, Parthenius of Nicaea, Pausanias, Pindar, Plato, Plutarch, Statius, Strabo, and Vergil.

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This entry was posted on 18 April 2010 at Sunday, April 18, 2010 . You can follow any responses to this entry through the .