Hermes: A God of Many Facets
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Hermes: A God of Many Facets
The Great Greek Project
5 October 2006
There are many boundaries that one crosses in their lifetime. Whether it is the boundary between your property and your neighbor’s or the boundary between the living world and the dead world, Hermes was the god of them all. The word boundary was then applied to fit in many other areas, which qualified him as god of those things. Even though he carried out many mischievous actions, he also performed many acts of kindness. All ninth graders should study this glorious Greek god.

Hermes is the son of Zeus and Maia, who was either a nymph or one of the seven Pleiades. He was born in a cave on Mount Cyllene in Arcadia. Hermes did not hesitate to commit his first act of thievery. Soon after he was born, Hermes climbed out of his cradle in the cave and left to steal the cattle of his brother Apollo. As he was exiting the cave, he noticed a tortoise and he killed it. He took the shell and strung it with catgut to make a musical instrument known as the lyre. He stole fifty of Apollo’s cattle, and when he was taking them away, he drove them backward to confuse possible followers. It was also said that he tied brushwood to the cows’ tails to brush away their footprints. Hermes wore sandals himself to obscure the outline of his footprint. He sacrificed two of the heifers he had stolen, and then he returned home to the cave (Cavendish 672-673). When Apollo was notified of this occurrence, he had a strong feeling that it was Hermes. He went to the cave in Mount Cyllene, where Hermes lives, and demanded his cattle back. Hermes claimed that he could not complete such a task because he was only a baby. Apollo took him to Olympus to be judged by Zeus. “Zeus was hugely amused and the heaven rang with laughter,” (Carlyon 173). When Zeus recovered, he forced Hermes to return Apollo’s cattle. After showing his brother the place where he hid the cattle, Hermes began playing the lyre he made. Apollo was so beguiled by its sound he allowed Hermes to keep the cows if he could have the musical instrument. Hermes agreed, and Apollo also secured Hermes the job as Messenger of the Gods, and many other divine powers. Another important thing Hermes did was to protect babies. He would carry them far away from danger. Hermes took Dionysus from Zeus at birth so that Zeus’ wife, Hera, did not learn of the affair. He took Dionysus to his nursemaid and then the nymphs to raise Dionysus. The scene of Hermes carrying Dionysus was a very famous subject for artists and sculptors.

Despite his juvenile delinquency, Hermes turned out to be a pleasant, cheerful, and helpful person. He was predominantly known to be the god of boundaries. His name was derived from the word herma, meaning a pile of stones, which marks a property boundary. The word boundary then applied to many other areas of life. He was also the god of roads because those led people across boundaries. He was the Messenger of the Gods because he carried messages across boundaries to deliver them. He was the god of travel because travelers cross boundaries to reach their destination. He was sometimes called the god of luck, particularly in making money. He is also the patron of merchants, thieves, athletics and herdsman. He was the patron of oratory as well, and he was regarded as this because the Greek word for interpretation is hermeneus, that name is given by him (Howatson, M.C. and Ian Chilvers). Hermes was also known as the conductor of the dead to Hades. He is the only person, other than Persephone and Hades, who can go to the underworld and back.

Through out his life, Hermes was involved with many women. He also had many children with them. Some of Hermes’ mistresses (and the children he had with them) are Acacallis (Cydon); Alcidamea (Bubus); Antianeira

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Cattle Of His Brother Apollo And Patron Of Merchants. (April 8, 2021). Retrieved from