Hermes is the messenger of Zeus and the God of Boundaries, transitions, travelers, roads, commerce, trade, thieves, sports, invention, literature and poetry, messenger of the Gods and guide to the underworld. He is the son of Zeus and Maia. He is also a psychopomp, meaning he leads the souls of the dead to the Underworld, ruled by his uncle, Hades.
Stealing Apollo's cattle
As an infant, Hermes snuck away while his mother slept. He went out to Apollo's golden sun cattle. He picked the fifty best cows, and fasted a broom on their tails and bark on their hooves. To confuse Apollo further, he herded them backwards, and fastened bundles of branches unto his feet, making it look as if a giant herded something in, but nothing out.
He sacrificed the cattle to the Olympians, including himself, and took the entrails of the sacrificed cows and made the lyre. Apollo stormed into the cave, because he had just realized what had happened, and demanded Hermes to give him his cattle. Hermes told him there were no cattle in his mothers cave. Apollo stormed up to Olympus and told the problem to Zeus. The Olympians laughed. Zeus told Hermes to take Apollo to his cattle, and so he did.
Apollo forgave him, but counted his cows. There were two missing, and his anger flared back. Before he could do anything, Hermes played his lyre. Apollo calmed and asked for the lyre. Hermes drove a hard bargain, asking for his Caduceus and his whole herd. Apollo grudgingly agreed.
Messenger of Zeus
When Hermes arrived on Olympus to become an Olympian, Zeus needed someone to leave Olympus to bring the gods' words to the mortals. Hermes chose Athena, and Athena chose Hermes. His argument was settled by a vote upon the Olympians and Hermes. Aphrodite, Hephaistos, Apollo, and Ares chose Hermes. Hermes had left and went down to earth, helping mortals. Hermes was given magic sandals, a golden winged hat, and a cape to hide his things in. He was made Zeus's messenger.
Rescuing Io from Argus
Zeus told Hermes to set free Io from Hera's secret garden. He went there, and sang a song to Argus. After this, told him a long, boring story. Argus closed fifty eyes, then the other fifty. He had died of boredom.
Not only did he set Io free, he had killed Hera's servant, making her very angry. And so Hera called for a vote to kill him. Hera tossed a pebble at Hermes, and the others threw pebbles at him. He was soon covered in pebbles. Hermes was then forgiven, and all was right again.
In the Odyssey
In Homer's Odyssey, Hermes intervenes at certain times, and the words he says always are in the form of a poem.
- Autolycus (m. Amphithea)
- Cephalus (m. Procris) (Mortal)
- (Hamilton 1998, p. 34)
- (Hamilton 1998, p. 34)
|Deities in Greek mythology|
|Protogenoi||Chaos • Gaia • Tartarus • Uranus • Erebos • Nyx • Aether • Hemera • Eros • Oceanus • Pontus • Thalassa|
|Titans||Atlas • Cronus • Mnemosyne • Prometheus • Rhea • Tethys • Themis • Metis • Hecate • Eos • Helios • Selene|
|Twelve Olympians||Zeus • Hera • Demeter • Hestia • Poseidon • Ares • Artemis • Apollo • Athena • Hermes • Hephaestus • Aphrodite • Dionysus|
|Daemones||Bia • Dike • Eris • Hebe • Hygieia • Hypnos • Nemesis • Nike • Phobos • Poena • Soteria • Thanatos|