Chapter 12: Hermes


The charming, amusing, much admired, and an extensive Hymn come Hermes (4) tells the story that the god’s birth and childhood.

Zeus and Maia.

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Zeus joined in love with the beautiful nymph MAIA (MAEA) in a luxurious cave, and also she bore the god HERMES (MERCURY). This precocious infant was born in ~ dawn. Through midday the was playing the lyre, and also in the evening he stole the livestock of Apollo.

Hermes Invents the Lyre. As shortly as Hermes left the cavern where he to be born, that encountered a tortoise and quickly devised a plan. That seized and also cut up the tortoise and used the hole shell, along with reeds, an ox’s hide, and also strings of sheep gut, to make the very first seven-stringed lyre. In no time at all, the tuned the lyre and was singing beautiful song in honor of his father and his mother.

Hermes Steals Apollo’s Cattle. really soon Hermes became intent on various other pursuits; he craved meat and devised a scheme for steal the livestock of Apollo. In the night, he cut off indigenous the herd fifty head and cleverly made them walk backwards, their heads dealing with him, when he self walked right ahead, attract sandals that wicker the he had actually woven to disguise his tracks. When an old guy working in a luxuriant vineyard noticed Hermes driving the cattle, the child god told him not to tell, promising him a good harvest the grapes and much wine.

Hermes makes Sacrifice. in ~ daybreak Hermes fed the cows well and also found a shelter for them. Climate he gathered part wood and was the very an initial to use dry sticks and also by friction kindle a fire. The skinned and also butchered two of the livestock (baby despite he was) and also divided rich components of the meat right into twelve portions, which he roasted as offerings come the gods. Following the ritual of sacrifice, he, as among the gods, could not eat any of the meat however only savor the aroma. After damaging all evidence of what he had done, that returned house to his mother.

Hermes Reassures Maia. Hermes obtained into his cradle and also acted prefer a helpless baby; but his mother Maia was not fooled through his display screen of helplessness and berated him, because that she knew that he had been as much as no good. Hermes answered her with clever words, assuring her that he to be to it is in the prince the thieves and also that that would win honor and also riches for them both among the Olympian gods.

Apollo Tracks down Hermes. Apollo, anxious around the ns of his cattle (which he defines were every cows), do inquires the the old guy tending the vineyard, and also the old male told him that he had actually seen a boy driving a herd backwards. The sign of an eagle with prolonged wings said Apollo the the thief was a kid of Zeus, and also when he observed the tracks of the cattle turned backwards and also the monitor of the robber cleverly obscured, the resourcefulness of the theft led him to the cavern of Maia and Hermes.

Apollo Confronts Hermes. In a rage, Apollo challenged Hermes, who sank down right into his blankets v a look of baby-innocence that failed to deceive Apollo. After ~ a search of the surroundings, that urgently doubted the child around his stolen cattle. Hermes claimed that that did not understand a thing; because he was born only yesterday, the was impossible that he might have committed such a crime. Apollo, however, was no fooled yet knew Hermes because that the sly-hearted cheat that he was. Their dispute ended only once Apollo brought Hermes come the height of Mt. Olympus, where he sought justice native Zeus himself.

Zeus Decides the Case. Apollo spoke very first and truthfully declared the facts around the theft that his cattle. Hermes’ answer was full of lies, and he also swore a mighty oath that he was absolutely innocent. Zeus provided a an excellent laugh once he heard the protests and also denials the the devious child and also ordered Hermes, in his role of guide, to command Apollo come the place where he had actually hidden the cattle.

The Reconciliation between Hermes and Apollo. Hermes did together Zeus commanded, and also when Apollo found his cattle, the two reconciled. Hermes take it up the lyre the he had invented and also played and sang for this reason beautifully that Apollo was enthralled and also exclaimed that this enchanting skill was worth fifty cows! the promised the Hermes would come to be the messenger of the gods and also that he and also his mommy would have actually renown among the immortals (and hence Hermes’ promise to his mommy was fulfilled). In ~ this, Hermes gave the lyre to Apollo ordaining that he should become a grasp of the music art, and Apollo in turn offered Hermes a shining whip and also put him in charge of livestock herds. And also so the two returned to Olympus, where Zeus unified them in friendship. Furthermore, Hermes swore come Apollo that he would never again steal any of his possessions. For this Apollo offered to Hermes a gold staff, safety of wealth and prosperity, and also as well an additional gift. Apollo alone had the prerogative of knowing the psychic of Zeus and also uttering prophecies in accord v his divine wisdom. This exclusive rights he can not share with his brand-new friend Hermes. However he could and did phone call Hermes around the Thriae, the three virgin sisters that were masters of the arts of divination, whom Hermes can consult as a source of prophetic expertise that he might pass on to mortals, that would be fortunate if lock listened.


as a an outcome of an affair in between Hermes and also Aphrodite, a kid was born, named HERMAPHRODITUS , or HERMAPHRODITOS, whose name and also beauty came from his parents. The most famed version that his story originates from Ovid, which no only offers an etiology because that the hermaphrodite but likewise explains why the spring SALMACIS , or SALMAKIS, was thought to enervate those that bathed in it.

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Hermaphroditus was brought up in a mountain cave by nymphs, and when he to be fifteen he left residence to wander unknown lands. Once he came to Halicarnassus, top top the shore of Asia Minor, he found a lover clear swimming pool of water surrounded by fresh eco-friendly grass. A nymph, Salmacis, lived in the pool. She refused to hunt in the woods and follow the quests of Artemis, yet instead stayed at her pool, regularly languishing seductively ~ above its verdant banks. When when she was picking flower nearby, she captured sight that the divinely beautiful Hermaphroditus and was smitten v an irresistible desire to have actually him. She carefully made herself together attractive as feasible before she handle him through a enthusiasm declaration of love that she insisted should be consummated. The young blushed due to the fact that he walk not know what love was, and when she touch his lover neck and demanded at the very least the kisses the a sister, he threatened to leave. Salmacis, fear to lose him, stated that she would offer him cost-free access to the place and also pretended to leaving him every alone. Rather she hid behind a adjacent grove that bushes to watch. Hermaphroditus, captivated by the pool, threw turn off his clothes, and Salamacis to be overwhelmed through the sight of his naked body. The dove right into the water, and also Salmacis, inflamed by passion, quickly dove in ~ him. She ordered hold that him and held him, enveloping him v kisses as he struggled to it is in free. Salmacis clung to Hermaphroditus v her entirety body, and it was as though they were one. The god granted she prayer that they never be separated. Their 2 bodies were joined together, and also they no longer were boy or girl yet partook of both sexes. The parental of Hermaphroditus, now a hermaphrodite, granted his prayer that any man that bathed in this pool would arise with limbs weakened and softened and but half a man.


below is a litany that the features of Hermes:

mr of herds and also lord the Mt. Cyllene and also Arcadia, affluent in flocks. Devious, winning in his ingenuity, and also a clever talker. A spy in the night, a robber, and also a prince that thieves. Slayer of Argus (Argeiphontes, check out MLS, thing 4). guide of dreams and guide the souls (psychopompos). Messenger that the gods.

an extremely important amongst these features is Hermes together the archetypal trickster and also master that persuasion. Likewise important is his duty as divine messenger (particularly that Zeus) and as the god that guides our souls to Hades; his epithet Psychopompos method guide that the soul. Since he is a messenger and also guide, he has actually the accoutrements of a traveler and a herald:

The PETASUS , or PETASOS, a broad-brimmed hat, occasionally winged. Sandals (talaria), frequently winged. The CADUCEUS  , or KERYKEION, a herald’s staff, occasionally entwined with two snakes (see navard of Words and Terms in English top top this website).

The girlfriend Hermes and also Apollo have actually a an excellent deal in common. They space both gods of shepherds, flocks, and also music. Hermes is a teenage Apollo, and his statues, herms, were to be discovered in gymnasia.

Herms (sing: herm). A herm was a rectangular or square tower equipped with male genitals and also with the head or bust of Hermes top top top. (Herms additionally is the designation, in the old world, of together pillars v the head or bust of any person or god, no necessarily Hermes). These statues were believed to bring fertility and an excellent luck.