Hermes: God Facts in Greek Mythology

     Hermes is the Greek God of speed and communication in Greek Mythology and is popularly known for being the messenger of the Gods. This God is Son of Jupiter (Zeus) and has a fundamental role, check below.

Hermes in Greek Mythology:

     The God Hermes was, in Greek Mythology, one of the Olympic gods, son of Zeus and Maia, and possessed of several attributes. A very old deity, he was already worshiped in pre-ancient Greek history possibly as a god of fertility, of herds, of magic, of divination, of roads and travel, among other attributes. Over the centuries his myth has been extensively expanded, becoming the messenger of the gods and patron of gymnastics, thieves, diplomats, traders, astronomy, eloquence and some forms of initiation, in addition to being the guide of souls from the dead to the kingdom of Hades, just to name a few of its most well-known functions. 

     With the dominion of Greece by Rome, Hermes was assimilated to the god Mercury, and through the Egyptian influence, he suffered a syncretism also with Thoth, appearing the character of Hermes Trismegisto. Both assimilations were of great importance, creating a rich tradition and perpetuating their image through the centuries to the present, exerting a significant influence on the culture of the West and certain eastern areas around the Mediterranean, reaching as far as Persia and Arabia.

With wings on your feet, you fly through space, singing all the Music, in all languages ... We honor you, Hermes, help us in our work! Give us an eloquent speech, and a youthful vigor. Supply our needs, grant us a clear memory. Give us good luck, and end our lives in peace.

Hermes First Appearances:

     The first literary descriptions of Hermes date from the archaic period of Greece, and show him being born in Arcadia. On the first day of life, he performed several feats and exhibited several powers: he stole fifty cows from his brother Apollo, invented fire, sacrifices, magic sandals and the lyre. The following day, forgiven for the theft of cows, he was invested with additional powers by Apollo and his father Zeus, and in turn granted Apollo the art of a new song, being admitted to Olympus as one of the great gods. 

     Later on, countless other writers enlarged and ornamented his original story, making him even a demiurge, and multiple versions of it emerged, often diverging in various details, while preserving his most characteristic lines. He was one of the most popular gods of classical antiquity, had many loves and generated numerous offspring. With the advent of Christianity, he came to be compared to Christ in his role as an interpreter of the will of the Logos. The figures of Hermes and his main distinctive, the caduceus, are still known and used today for their symbolic value, and several authors consider him to be the tutelary image of contemporary Western culture.


     The origins of the Hermes myth are uncertain, and opinions vary between considering him an indigenous god, worshiped since the Neolithic period, or as an Asian import, perhaps through Cyprus or Cilicia well before the beginning of written records in Greece. What seems certain is that his cult was established in Greece since a very remote time, probably making him a god of nature, of farmers and of shepherds. It is also possible that from the beginning it was a deity with shamanic attributes, linked to divination, atonement, magic, sacrifices, initiation and contact with other planes of existence, in a mediating role between the visible and invisible worlds. 

     In any case, he became one of the most present gods in all Greek mythology, and hardly any of the main myths does not count on his participation, assuming a large number of epithets, forms and attributes. Among the functions most commonly connected to him in Greek literature are to be the messenger of the gods, and the god of language skills, eloquent and persuasive speech, metaphors, prudence and circumspection, also of intrigues and veiled reasons, fraud and perjury, wit and ambiguity, so he was a patron of orators, heralds, ambassadors and diplomats, messengers and thieves.
     As an inventor, it is said that he had invented fire, the lyre, the syrinx, the alphabet, numbers, astronomy, a special form of music, the arts of fighting, gymnastics and olive cultivation; measurements, weights and many other things. For his constant mobility and other intellectual and relational qualities, he was considered the god of commerce and social exchange, of wealth that comes from business, especially from sudden or unexpected enrichment, travel, roads and crossroads, borders and border conditions or transitory, changes, thresholds, agreements and contracts, friendship, hospitality, sexual intercourse; he was the god of craps, of draws, of good luck; of sacrifices and sacrificial animals, of herds and herders, of the fertility of the land and livestock. 

     His ministry to Zeus was not limited to being a messenger, but he was still tasked with serving his cup, so he was the god of banquets, and driving his chariot. It was also who took the souls of the dead to Hades, and who directed the dreams sent to mortals by Zeus. In limited ways, he was also a god of medicine, associated with Higeia and able to restore virility, ward off plagues, help childbirth and heal with certain plants.


     Another syncretism of enormous subsequent influence that was completed during the Roman period was the formation of the Hermes Trismegisto, or "Hermes three-times-great". According to one of his stories, Hermes had traveled to Egypt and given him laws and writing, and Thoth was an immensely popular god in Egypt, linked to time, destiny, cosmic order, law, wisdom, culture and knowledge, religion and civil institutions, rituals, the occult and magic, and he was also a judge and guide of the dead. Having several points of contact between them, in assimilation Hermes acquired the status of priest, philosopher and ruler, and Thoth was also magnified in his country with various attributes of the other.

Reception of Hermes in the Middle Age:

     The tradition of Trismegistus spread to the West and also to the East, finding great preservation centers throughout the Middle Ages, albeit selective, in the Byzantine Empire, Persia and Arabia, but even medieval writers from Europe still considered him an authority . Pedro Abelardo, São Boaventura and São Tomás de Aquino saw him as a great philosopher, and Alberto Magno cited him as a reference in astrology. Among the Arabs Trismegistus was most often associated with the prophet Idris, who in the Koran appears as a figure exalted by Allah. According to Moore, at the end of the Middle Ages the character of Hermes-Mercury was more strongly linked to the philosophy of Trismegistus; iconography of the time sometimes represents him as a scribe or bishop. 

     As for Hermes-Mercury, some of the early Church Fathers compared him to Christ as a vehicle of the Logos, and he was associated with several other characters from the Judeo-Christian tradition, such as Moses, Metatron, São Paulo, São João Batista and Enoque, being thus he, too, was at the origin of modern European religious culture. According to Mircea Eliade he was one of the few gods in the classical pantheon who did not succumb to the rise of Christianity.

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