(messenger of the gods, god of motion, travelers, commerce, thieves, sheep and more)
Roman name: Mercury
Parents: Zeus and Maia (daughter of the Titan Atlas)
According to stories about him, Hermes started his life in mischief. When he was only one day old, he sneaked out of his cave home. He saw a turtle and decided to kill it and use it’s shell to create a lyre. Then he went searching the countryside and ran across fifty of Apollo’s prized cattle. He stole and hid the cattle and using his cleverness, he disguised the hiding place. Apollo searched for the cattle and accused Hermes of stealing them. Hermes pretended to be innocent and was brought before Zeus, who saw through the lies. Hermes gave back the cattle and then began to play his lyre. Apollo was so enchanted with the new instrument that he traded the cattle for the lyre.
Zeus gave Hermes a pair of golden winged sandals and appointed him to be the messenger of the gods. In exchange for the honor, Hermes committed not to lie to Zeus. He was put in charge of many different tasks. For example, he led the dead to the River Styx. He was also the one who returned Persephone from the underworld. During the travels of Odysseus, Hermes delivered a message to Calypso to release him. He also played a part in many other famous myths.
Zeus often used Hermes to protect his mistresses and their offspring from his jealous wife Hera. Hermes was also an illegitimate offspring of Zeus. One day he tricked Hera into suckling him by making her think he was Ares. Suckling a child in the Greek culture bonded a woman for the child as a foster parent. By tricking Hera in this way, Apollo was able to limit Hera’s anger toward him.
Hermes had several affairs. The most famous one was with Aphrodite. At first she refused his advances. He then went to his father Zeus and asked for his help to win her. Zeus sent an eagle to steal Aphrodite’s sandals while she was bathing. Hermes offered to return the sandals if she would accept hhis advances. She agreed and they produce Hermaphroditus as an offspring.
Other Affairs of Hermes
Herse (daughter of Cecrops)
Apemosyne (daughter of Catreus, King of Crete)
child: the famous thief Autolycus (like father like son)
Other Children of Hermes
Pan (god of shepard’s and fertility)
Myrtilus (famous Charioteer)
Echion (became the herald of the Argonauts)
Mercury by Giovanni Da Bologna - Museo Nazionale Del Bargello, Florence
Major Gods and Goddesses
Introduction | Creation Story | Olympians VS. Titans | Creation of Man |
Revolt of Giants | Abduction of Persephone | The Underworld
Visitors to Underworld | Amzon Warriors | Ares vs. Athena | Daedalus and Icarus
Echo and Narcissus | Judgement of Paris | Perseus and Andromeda | Trojan War