Hermes - Greek God of Commerce

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Hermes - Greek God of Commerce

Hermes, the messenger of Olympian gods. God of commerce, protector of traders, herds and thieves. As deity of athletes, he protected gymnasiums and stadiums and was believed to bring good luck and wealth. He conducted souls of death into Underworld (Hades). He was connected with bringing sleep and dreams to mortals. He was also known as a prankster, dangerous foe, trickster and thief. He was cunning and shrewd. Son of Zeus and mountain nymph Maia, daughter of the Titan Atlas. As a newborn baby, he was remarkably precocious. According to one myth he was born in a cave on Mount Cyllene in Arcadia. Zeus had impregnated Maia at the death of night, while other gods slept. When dawn break he was amazingly born. Maia wrapped him into swaddling bands. Then she fell asleep. Hermes got free and ran off to Thessaly. This is where Apollo, his brother grazed his cattle. Hermes stole the herd and drove them back into Greece. Hermes hid them in grotto near the city of Pylos. He covered the tracks. Before he had return to the cave he found tortoise, killed it and removed its entrails. He used the cow’s intestines and hollow tortoise shell and made the first lyre. When he was back in cave he wrapped himself into swaddling bands. Later Apollo realized that he was robbed he said Maia that it was Hermes, who robbed him. Maia looked at Hermes in swaddling bands and protested that it could not be Hermes. Zeus intervened, that he was watching and Hermes should return the cattle to Apollo. But Hermes started to play his new-invented lyre and the sweet music charmed Apollo so much that he exchanged the cattle for the lyre, which later became the symbol of Apollo and his master instrument. Later as Hermes looked after his herd he invented panpipes known as syrinx, which was made from reeds. He also invented flute, which he trade with Apollo. He received golden staff, known as caduceus. His other inventions were foot racing and boxing. At Olympia, his statue stand at the entrance of stadium and his statue was in every gymnasium through Greece. His name is probably derived from herma (herm), the Greek word for a heap of stones, such as was used in the country to indicate boundaries or as a landmark. There he was especially worshipped as the god of fertility, and his images were ithyphallic. Hermes was in archaic art, apart from the stylized herms, depicted as a full-grown man with beard.

From the latter part of the 5th century BC he was portrayed as a nude and beardless youth, a young athlete. He wore broad brimmed hat or winged cap, known as helmet of invisibility or darkness; winged sandals and the kerykeion also called in Latin caduceus. He was dressed in long tunic, clothes of traveler; shepherd or he was just undressed. Caduceus was originally a willow wand with entwined ribbons. But ribbons were later shown as serpents. To support this mythologically, a story evolved that Hermes used caduceus to separate two fighting snakes, which forthwith twined themselves together in peace. The shaft had often the wings attached. This wand, but with one snake – symbol of Greek god of healing Asclepius was adopted as a symbol of medical profession. His children are believed to be Pan, Abdereus and Hermaphroditus. Hermes as with the other gods had numerous affairs with goddesses, nymphs and mortals. Pan, the half man half goat, is believed to be the son of Hermes and either Penelope, the wife of Odysseus, or the nymph Callisto. Hermes took him to Mount Olympus and gods reveled in his laughter and his appearance and became patron of fields, woods, shepherds and flocks. His brother Abderus was companion of Heracles. He was devoured by Mares of Diomedes after Heracles had left him in charge of the ferocious beasts. Hermaphroditus is son of Aphrodite and Hermes. He was born on Mount Ida and raised by nymphs of freshwater called Naiads. He was androgynous deity, depicted either a handsome man with female breasts, or as Aphrodite with male genitals. Hermes is known for his helpfulness to mankind, both in his capacity as immortal herald and on his own initiative. He aided Perseus when he set out to face Gorgon Medusa. According one version of this myth he loaned Perseus his magic sandals, which had ability to fly. Some myths say that he also loaned him helmet of invisibility as well. Hermes liberated Zeus’ lover Io from hundred-eye giant Argus, who had been ordered by Hera, the jealous wife of Zeus, to watch over her. Hermes enchanted the giant with music of his flute and when the giant fell asleep he cut off his head and released Io. Hera as a gesture of thanks to her loyal servant, scattered the hundred eyes of Argos over the tail of peacock. He also persuaded the Nymph Calypso to release Odysseus. She had kept him captive after he was shipwrecked on her island. Hermes also saved Odysseus and his crew from being transformed into pigs by sorceress Circe. Hermes gave him an herb, which resisted the spell.

He guided Eurydika back down to the underground after she had been allowed to stay one day on earth with her husband Orpheus. Character of Hermes had inspired many artists. Hermes was one of the most favorite subjects of artists. His Roman counterpart Mercury inherited most of Hermes’ attributes. One of the most famous depictions of Hermes is statue of Hermes Holding the Infant Dionysus. Bibliography

Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia 2000 Standard Edition
Encyclopedia Britannica On-Line, www.britannica.com
Encyclopedia Mythica, www.parthenon.com/mythica/
Encyclopedia of Greek Mythology, www.mythweb.com/encyc/.

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