Hermes is a god of transitions and boundaries. He is quick and cunning, and moved freely between the worlds of the mortal and divine, as emissary and messenger of the gods, intercessor between mortals and the divine, and conductor of souls into the afterlife. He is protector and patron of travelers, herdsmen, thieves, orators and wit, literature and poets, athletics and sports, invention and trade. In some myths he is a trickster, and outwits other gods for his own satisfaction or the sake of humankind. His attributes and symbols include the herma, the rooster and the tortoise, purse or pouch, winged sandals, winged cap, and his main symbol is the herald's staff, the Greek kerykeion or Latin caduceus which consisted of two snakes wrapped around a winged staff.
In the Roman adaptation of the Greek pantheon (see interpretatio romana), Hermes is identified with the Roman god Mercury, who, though inherited from the Etruscans, developed many similar characteristics, such as being the patron of commerce.
Titles and Epithets
In ancient Greek cult, kriophoros (Greek: κριοφόρος) or criophorus, the "ram-bearer," is a figure that commemorates the solemn sacrifice of a ram. It becomes an epithet of Hermes: Hermes Kriophoros. See also Kriophoros.
Hermes's epithet Ἀργειφόντης Argeiphontes (Latin: Argicida), meaning "Argus-slayer", recalls his slaying of the hundred-eyed giant Argus Panoptes, who was watching over the heifer-nymph Io in the sanctuary of Queen Hera herself in Argos. Hermes placed a charm on Argus's eyes with the caduceus to cause the giant to sleep, after this he slew the giant. Argus' eyes were then put into the tail of the peacock, symbol of the goddess Hera.
Messenger and guide
- Diactoros, (angelos) the messenger, is in fact only seen in this role, for Zeus, from within the pages of the Odyssey (Brown 1990).
... Oh mighty messenger of the gods of the upper and lower worlds ... (Aeschylus).Explicitly, at least in sources of classical writings, of Euripides Electra and Iphigenia in Aulis and in Epictetus Discourses. According to Blackwood's Edinburgh magazine (1849) the chief office of the God was as messenger.
- hodios patron of travelers and wayfarers
- oneiropompus, conductor of dreams
- poimandres, shepherd of men
- psychopompos, conveyor or conductor of souls and psychogogue, conductor or leader of souls in (or through) the underworld.
the factor of travelling or motion with or without others with respect to the physical landscape, or the landscape of the soul , is the core attribute of the god as messenger and guide.
- Agoraeus, of the agora; belonging to the market - (in Aristophanes [trans. Ehrenberg],) patron of gymnasia
- Dolios (lit. tricky. [According to prominent folklorist Yeleazar Meletinsky, Hermes is a deified trickster.] ) - god (or patron guidance) and master of thieves ("a plunderer, a cattle-raider, a night-watching" - in Homers' Hymns)...
and deception (Euripides) and (possibly evil) tricks and trickeries, crafty (from lit. god of craft), the cheat, god of stealth and of cunning, (see also to act secretively as kleptein in reference - EL Wheeler), of treachery, the schemer, wily, was worshipped at Pellene [Pausanias, vii. 27, 1]), and invoked through Odysseus.
(As the ways of gain are not always the ways of honesty and straightforwardness, Hermes obtains a bad character and an in-moral (amoral [ed.]) cult as Dolios)—
Hermes is amoral like a baby. although Zeus sent Hermes as a teacher to humanity to teach them knowledge of and value of justice and to improve inter-personal relationships ("bonding between mortals").
- Empolaios "engaged in traffic and commerce."
Other epithets included:
- chthonius - At the festival Athenia Chytri sacrifices are made to this visage of the god only.
- cyllenius, born on Mount Kyllini
- epimelios, guardian of flocks
- kriophoros "ram-bearer"
- ploutodotes, giver of wealth (as inventor of fire)
- proopylaios, "before the gate" (Edwardson 2011), (guardian of the gate),Pylaios "doorkeeper"
- strophaios, "standing at the door post"
- Stropheus, "the socket in which the pivot of the door moves" (Kerényi in Edwardson) or "door-hinge". Protector of the door (that is the boundary), to the temple
On LemuriasHermes is a god who is said to value fair play, often to settle disputes among the other Olympians. While he values whit and daring required to accomplish difficult thefts, he frowns upon those who would steal from anyone who cannot afford the loss. He pretty much urges his followers to be dependable and prompt, but he despises tediousness and smiles at the unexpected upsetting what is predictable. Hermes doesn't like slothfulness. He expects the idle to travel and have new experiences.
Clergy and TemplesEdit
Hermes is the most popular god in Phaeselis amongst the Olympians. Despite being only an Intermediate god. Hermes' clerics, however, seldom stay still. They are always busy with something or traveling around the world. They are found a variety of occupations. They often serve as diplomats, judges, translators, moneychangers, surveyors, and explorers.
One of the oldest places of worship for Hermes was Mount Cilene in Arcadia, where the myth says that he was born. Tradition says that his first temple was built by Lycaon. From there the cult would have been taken to Athens, and then radiate to the whole of Greece, according to Smith, and his temples and statues became extremely numerous. Lucian of Samosata said he saw the temples of Hermes everywhere.
In many places, temples were consecrated in conjunction with Aphrodite, as in Attica, Arcadia, Crete, Samos and in Magna Graecia. Several ex-votos found in his temples revealed his role as initiator of young adulthood, among them soldiers and hunters, since war and certain forms of hunting were seen as ceremonial initiatory ordeals. This function of Hermes explains why some images in temples and other vessels show him as a teenager. As a patron of the gym and fighting, Hermes had statues in gyms and he was also worshiped in the sanctuary of the Twelve Gods in Olympia, where Greeks celebrated the Olympic Games. His statue was held there on an altar dedicated to him and Apollo together. A temple within the Aventine was consecrated in 495 BC.
Symbols of Hermes were the palm tree, turtle, rooster, goat, the number four, several kinds of fish, incense. Sacrifices involved honey, cakes, pigs, goats, and lambs. In the sanctuary of Hermes Promakhos in Tanagra is a strawberry tree under which it was believed he had created, and in the hills Phene ran three sources that were sacred to him, because he believed that they had been bathed at birth.
Hermes's feast was the special Hermaea was celebrated with sacrifices to the god and with athletics and gymnastics, possibly having been established in the 6th century BC, but no documentation on the festival before the 4th century BC survives. However, Plato said that Socrates attended a Hermaea. Of all the festivals involving Greek games, these were the most like initiations because participation in them was restricted to young boys and excluded adults.
- Argeiphontes means "Argus slayer" or "Argus killer."
- Hermes is credited with inventing the Alphabet, Astronomy, the Lyre, Mysticism, and the Panpipes.
- Hermes was the messenger of the gods.
- Hermes was based on Moses, who was taught by the Egyptians all of their learning. So he invented the Alphabet -- Aleph Beyt actually -- Astronomy, and many other things.
- Hermes and Moses carried a staff that had serpents. This became the symbol of the Healing profession.