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Pronunciation : HUR-meez

(Olympian )HERMES

Also known as ENAGONIOS
God of : Messengers, Merchants, Thievery, Cunning, Athletics, Shepherds
Attributes : Winged Cap and Sandals
Festival Days :
When in Rome : Mercury

As well as being the God of thievery, cunning, athletics, trade, and pretty much everything else that requires skill and dexterity... or the ability to fib with a straight face, Hermes was messenger of the Gods and probably expected a Ferarri ... but had to make do with a pair of winged-sandals.

Born in a cave on Mount Cyllele, Hermes was a trickster from the get-go and on the very day he was born stole fifty divine heifers from his brother, Apollo.

Under the cover of darkness he slipped into a huge pair of homemade sandals to disguise his tiny little footprints and scaled the peaks of Pieria until he reached the herd. Then he marched them backwards, so as not to give away the direction they were travelling, all the way to the banks of the river Alpheus where he hid them in a cave.

He had worked up an appetite by this point, and rubbing together two laurel twigs to make a fire he picked out the two fattest beasts, roasted them and carefully divided the meat into twelve identical portions in honor of the Olympian Gods. With his offering complete, he re-scaled mount Cyllele, entered the cave via the keyhole and crawled back into his cot for a nap. It had been a long first day.

But Apollo wasn't fooled, and made straight for Cyllele...

'I'm here for my cattle, HE stole them' snapped Apollo, pointing the accusing finger at snoozing Hermes,

'Who, little Hermy?' asked Maia, 'but he's only one day old. He doesn't even know what cows are!'

Apollo grabbed Hermes, still protesting his innocence, and dragged him in front of the Mount Olympus Livestock theft commitee who found the whole episode hilarious. Zeus was particularly proud of his sons ingenuity, but theft is theft, and he ordered Hermes to show Apollo where the cattle were hidden.

Hermes : 'erm. Apollo.. bro.. you might notice two cows are missing. I sacrificed them to the twelve Olympic gods, sorry.'

Apollo : 'there's only eleven olympic gods, fool!'

Hermes : 'Well, actually i'm number twelve. I was starving too but i didn't take more than my equal share.'

Apollos blood was beginning to boil, but his anger was soon tempered by the sweetest music he had ever heard. As a bit of a musician himself he recognised the sound of genius when he heard it and the sweet notes led him straight to Hermes who was singing songs of Apollo and his forgiving deeds while playing what looked like a tortoise. He had Apollo wrapped around his little finger.

'What is that?' asked Apollo.

'What, this? Oh, it's just something i knocked up. I nicked the shell off a turtle then took some hairs and stuff from your cows to string it. I hope you don't mind?'

'A bargain!' cried an excited Apollo, 'You keep the cows and i get the musical turtle ... thingy. I'm sure i could play it.'

'Lyre' said Hermes

'I could too, i'm the god of music!' snapped Apollo

'No, it's called a Lyre. You can have it, i'm bored with it anyway. Oh, and you'll need this' said Hermes, passing him a plectrum which he had also invented.

As Apollo tried out his new instrument, Hermes lashed together some reeds and began to play like an expert.'

'Bargain!' yelled Apollo, 'you take my golden staff, and i take the blowy noise making reed... thingy. What's it called?'

'Pan pipes' replied Hermes

'Pans pipes? I'm sure he won't mind.'

'Well, they're my pipes actually, and to be honest i think they're far more valuable than your stinky old shaft, but throw in the gift of prophecy and they're yours.'

The guile and cunning which had Apollo virtually eating out of the palm of his hand made Hermes an ideal candidate for messenger of the gods, and while he couldn't promise to always tell the whole truth he did promise not to bare faced lie, which was good enough to land him the job of Zeus' personal herald complete with winged cap and sandals.

Hermes was popular with the other gods, despite his love of a good prank and helped them out of tight corners inumerable times. His knowledge of stringing musical instruments proved invaluble when Zeus was trapped in Corycian cave minus his tendons and nerves courtesy of Typhon, and Hera knew who to call when a certain heifer was being guarded by Argus.

But his protection also extended to mortals, particularly the heroic variety. When Perseus faltered, Hermes gift of the gab restored his courage. When Odysseus was faced with the tough-talking sorceress Circe, Hermes pulled out all the stops with his knowledge of magic and herbs, and possibly invented boxing just for the occasion. And he took to his role as psychopomp like a duck to water as he escorted Heracles to the underworld on his final labour.

Despite the earlier incident with the cows, Hermes became the god of flocks, the god of trade and wheeler dealing, diplomacy and hospitality. He was adopted by the greek postal service and his winged hat and sandals adorn many a parcel, though i don't know how impressed he would be with their service.
Family Tree ...
Parents : Zeus and Maia
Spouse : Don't know, sorry
Offspring : Coming soon...
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'HERMES' - Greek entry : 26 April 2007
Page last modified on 27 Mar 2013
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