Home Page

Immortals Index

Hermes

'Ερμης

The Herald of the Immortals

Young Hermes

The Birth of Hermes
Hermes and Apollon
Hermes and Pandora
Children of Hermes
Hermes and Odysseus
Hermes and Kirke
Hermes and Kalypso
Argeiphontes
Hermes and Aphrodite
Hermes and King Priam
Hermes and the Golden Fleece
Encounters With Hermes
Text References
Images of Hermes

The Birth of Hermes

Hermes is the Wing-Shod messenger of the Olympian Immortals. He is the beloved son of Zeus and the Nymph, Maia.

Maia is a daughter of Atlas, she and her sisters are known as the Pleiades. Zeus came to Maia in the darkness of night so that his sister/wife Hera would not know of his amorous intentions towards the lovely Nymph. Maia lived in a secluded cave on Mount Kyllene (Cyllene) in Arkadia (Arcadia) so Zeus's escapade went unobserved. Hermes was born at dawn of the tenth month after Zeus's union with Maia.

Hermes is a very ancient god ... his influence can be traced back to the earliest Egyptian records where he is credited with numerous contributions to the civilization of the human race:

Hermes has the power to enter the dreams of mortals ... he is guardian of gates and watcher in the night.

Immediately after being born, Hermes left his cradle and ventured from his mother's cave to an adjoining mountain called Chelydorea (mountain of the flayed tortoise). Hermes encountered a mountain tortoise and, as quick as a thought, scooped the animal from its shell, covered the shell with ox hide and attached two arms joined by a crosspiece on which he stretched sheep gut. Within minutes he had conceived and constructed the first seven-stringed lyre (some ancient accounts suggest that Hermes's lyre had only three strings ... one for Spring, Summer and Winter). He sang of Zeus and his mother. He sang of his mother's handmaidens and the cave in which he had been born.

Hermes and Apollon

Hungry for adventure, Hermes left his mother's cave and began to roam the countryside. He reached the mountains of Pieria by the time Helios (Sun) descended into the ocean. He found the sacred grove of Apollon and stole fifty cattle from Apollon's herd. Hermes drove the divine cattle from the grove and donned crude, overlarge sandals to leave gigantic footprints to confound anyone who might follow him. He also made the cattle walk backwards so that it would look as if a they were coming instead of going.

A farmer saw Hermes passing and the infant god told the old man to forget what he had seen and tell no one of the mysterious cattle passing in the night. After crossing the Alpheios (Alpheius) River, Hermes sheltered the cattle and built the first fire on the face of the earth. He killed and roasted two of the beasts and dedicated the finest pieces of meat to the Immortals on Mount Olympos (Olympus). He then stretched the hides to dry in the sun and made his way back to his mother's cave. Entering the cave through the keyhole as a vaporous mist, Hermes returned to his cradle and pretended that he was a helpless infant. Maia was not fooled by his pretensions and scolded her son for being a rogue and liar. Hermes said that if he could not share in the affluence and honors of the other Immortals, he would become the chief of robbers.

Hermes

At dawn of the next day Apollon began searching for his missing cattle. He questioned the farmer who had seen Hermes and quickly deduced that his cattle had been stolen and the likely identity of the thief. Apollon went swiftly to Mount Kyllene and confronted the infant Hermes and said that he would cast him down into Tartaros (Tartarus) if he did not return the stolen cattle. Hermes found it easy to lie and declared that he knew nothing of the cattle. Apollon was not so easily fooled. He took Hermes from his crib and set out for Mount Olympos so that Hermes could be judged by Zeus.

Zeus listened to Apollon's truthful account of the theft of the cattle but Hermes pretended innocence and said that he was only born yesterday and too young to know the ways of deceit and falsehood. Zeus laughed at the child's roguishness and commanded Hermes to take Apollon to the cattle. Hermes obeyed without hesitation and soon he and Apollon were at the place where the cattle had been hidden. Apollon was amazed that a mere infant had been able to kill two of the cattle and stretch their hides to dry in the sun. Hermes began to play his lyre and again Apollon was amazed. Hermes sang of the first Immortals and how they had divided creation into their dominions. Apollon said that he had danced and sang with the Muses but had never heard such beautiful music or seen such a masterful musician. He promised Hermes many gifts and assured him a place of renown amongst the Immortals. Hermes accepted the blessings of Apollon and gave him the lyre as a token of his affection. After hearing Apollon play the lyre with such art, Hermes then created the musical pipes.

With the blessing of Zeus, Apollon pronounced that Hermes would become the lord over lions, boars, dogs and all animal herds on the face of the earth. Apollon also made Hermes the messenger of Hades (lord of the Underworld) but he would not give Hermes the gift of prophecy because that gift was his alone and only he was allowed to know the will of Zeus. As a minor concession, Apollon told Hermes that there were three virgin goddesses who lived under the folds of Mount Parnassos (Mount Parnassus) who would flitter about and feed on yellow honey. After they had eaten the honey, they would only speak the truth ... if Hermes questioned them carefully he would learn many things. He would then have the power to impart these truths to men of his choosing for their benefit. Apollon also gave Hermes a beautiful golden staff with three branches to represent wealth and affluence. The staff would protect the young god against harm and enforce the laws of righteous words and actions.

Hermes thus became the friend to the mortals of the earth. He introduced weights, measures and games of chance. He is the giver of good luck and has a hand in all secret dealings and stratagems. He is, of course, sacred to all heralds. From his name, we have the word hermetic which means sealed and impervious to outside influence. If a message is given to Hermes, it will be delivered faithfully to the intended recipient. His domain includes roads, traffic and markets. In ancient times, a statue indicative of Hermes was placed atop pillars to mark boundaries.

(Back to Top)

Hermes

Hermes and Pandora

Throughout the various ages of mortals on the earth, there had been no women until the creation of Pandora.

Pandora was the greatest gift that the Immortals could give the men of the earth but she was also meant to be a curse to punish Prometheus and his brother Epimetheus.

Pandora's name means All-Endowed because, at the command of Zeus, she was given gifts from various Immortals and was thus Endowed By All.

Zeus created Pandora as a gift for Epimetheus and despite warnings from his brother Prometheus, Epimetheus accepted Pandora because she was irresistible. Pandora was the punishment to the race of men because Prometheus had given them fire.

Hephaistos (Hephaestus) molded Pandora's body from earth into the likeness of a modest young girl. Athene (Athena) taught Pandora the skills of weaving and gave her dexterity. Aphrodite (goddess of Love) put a mist upon her head to engender longings and desire. Hermes gave her the mind of a hussy and a treacherous nature. The Graces and Peitho (Persuasion) gave her necklaces of gold and the Seasons put a halo of flowers on Pandora's head.

When Epimetheus accepted Pandora he unleashed all the evils on the world. The only positive influence that Pandora brought to the world of men was Hope (Ελπσ) and although women were designed as a curse to men, the only thing worse than marriage was for a man to live and die without the love of a woman.

(Back to Top)

Children of Hermes

Hermes was the father of many immortal and semi-divine children.

Hermaphroditus

Perhaps the most famous and unusual son of Hermes was Hermaphroditus. With Aphrodite as the mother, Hermaphroditus was born with a physical body which was a combination of that of a man and that of a woman ... he was beautiful and delicate like that of a woman but had the masculine quality and vigor of a man.

Hermaphroditus

Aphrodite was without doubt the most enchantingly feminine goddess on earth ... Hermes likewise was the most manly and masculine of the gods. The union of such ultimate masculine and feminine divinity produced an entirely unique man/woman like Hermaphroditus.

The ancient Greeks were not sure whether Hermaphroditus was a monstrosity or a prophet. His appearance was striking but disturbing and people were not sure if his presence presaged good or evil.

Eleusis

Hermes mated with Daeira, daughter of Okeanos (Ocean), and their son was Eleusis. Although not all ancient poets agree with Eleusis's parentage, we can be reasonably sure that Eleusis was Hermes's son because of the importance he played in the establishment of the most holy shrine for Demeter and Persephone. The city of Eleusis was named after Eleusis and became the site of one of the most secretive and mysterious cult centers of the ancient world.

Bunus

Bunus was the son of Hermes and Alkidamea (Alcidamea). When Aietes (Aeetes) left Epliyraea to assume the kingship of Kolchis (Colchis), he entrusted Epliyraea to Bunus. Bunus is noted for setting up a Temple of Hera in Corinth where the goddess is known as Hera Bunaea.

Polybos

Sikyon (Sicyon), the founder of the city by the sane name, had a daughter named Chthonophyle, she and Hermes were the parents of Polybos (Polybus). Chthonophyle later mated with Dionysos and had a son named Androdamas.

Polybos became the king of Sikyon and was followed to the throne by Adrastus. Since Adrastus was a part of the two attacks on Thebes known as the Seven Against Thebes and the Epigone, that would mean that Polybos lived and died approximately one generation before the Trojan War or circa 1280 BCE.

Pharis

The city of Pharae in Lakonia (Laconia) was founded by Pharis, the son of Hermes and Phylodameia, the daughter of Danaus. Pharis's daughter Telegone was mentioned in The Iliad because she had twin sons named Krethon (Crethon) and Ortilochos (Ortilochus) who fought in the Trojan War on the side of the Achaeans (Achaians).

Autolykos

Neaera, the daughter of Pereus, married Autolykos (Autolycus), a son of Hermes. Little is known of Autolykos other than the fact that he lived on Mount Mount Parnassos (Parnassus) and was raised by a man named Baedalion.

Myrtilus

Myrtilus (Myrtilos) was a son of Hermes who was unceremoniously murdered for his unscrupulous behavior.

Myrtilus was the charioteer of King Oenomaus of Elis and betrayed Oenomaus for a bribe. King Oenomaus declared that no man would be allowed to marry his daughter Hippodamia unless the suitor could win a chariot race against his prize team. To insure his teams' success, Oenomaus would try to injure the suitor while the race was in progress. An ambitious man named Pelops accepted the challenge and decided to ensure his victory by bribing Myrtilus.

Myrtilus accepted the bribe and deliberately lost the chariot race. Since his team had lost the race, King Oenomaus was obliged to allow Pelops to marry Hippodamia. Being a true scoundrel, Pelops refused to pay the bribe to Myrtilus and then threw him into the sea where he died. Myrtilus was buried behind the Temple of Hermes at Pheneus in Arkadia (Arcadia).

Evander

Evander was the the son of Hermes and a Nymph daughter of the god of the Ladon River in Arkadia (Arcadia). Evander set out from the Arkadian city of Pallantium and founded a new city on the banks of the Tiber River in Italy. He named the new city Pallantium and it eventually became a part of Rome. The name of the city was changed to Palatium by the Roman emperor Antoninus who ruled from 138 to 161 CE.

Kydon

The Cretans insist that Kydon was the son of Hermes and Akacallis (Acacallis), daughter of King Minos of Crete. Kydon was the eponymous founder of the city of Kydonia (Cydonia), modern Chania. It is asserted by non-Cretans that Kydon was actually the son of a man named Tegeates.

The role of Kydonia during the Minoan period (circa 1200 BCE) is not known with certainty but its strategic location makes it easy to believe that it was a viable port for all sorts of commerce. The proximity of Crete to Egypt and the Greek islands as well as the Greek mainland made it an excellent stop-over point for trading throughout the eastern Mediterranean.

Norax

Norax was the son of Hermes and Erytheia, the daughter of Geryon (Geryones). Geryon was the three-bodied man slain by Herakles (Heracles) as part of his Tenth Labor. Norax was an Iberian who led an expedition to the island of Sardinia and founded the city of Nora.

Daphnis

Daphnis was a son of Hermes and an unnamed Nymph. Daphnis was born on the island of Sicily in a region called the Heraean Mountains. The glens surrounding the mountains were lush with trees and all forms of life sustaining plants. Daphnis was born in a grove consecrated to the Nymphs and got his name from the sweet smelling bay plant (daphne) that grew in profusion in the sacred grove.

Daphnis was mortal but was loved by a Nymph to whom he was unfaithful. For his punishment he was blinded and spent the remainder of his life singing mournful songs in the pastures of Sicily.

Saon

Saon may have been a son of Hermes but it was also believed that he was actually a son of Zeus. If Saon was a son of Hermes, his mother would have been Rhene. Saon was born on the island of Samothrake (Samothrace) and his name was derived from that of the island. After The Deluge (11,000 BCE?), Saon gathered the survivors who had been scattered around the island and organized them into five tribes that his sons ruled in accordance with the laws Saon created.

Aithalides

Aithalides (Aethalides) was son of Hermes and Eupolemeia. Aithalides was one of the Argonauts and the half-brother of the Argonauts, Erytos and Echion.

Just like his father, Aithalides had an indelible memory, for that reason he was logically chosen to be the herald of the Argonauts. There is a brief mention of Aithalides's eventual fate in The Argonautika ... he retained his perfect memory but was doomed to sometimes abide among the living and at other times dwell with the dead.

Eudoros

Eudoros (Eudorus) was the son of Hermes and Polymele. When Polymele became the mother of Eudoros, a kindhearted man named Echekles (Echecles) recognized the fact that Eudoros was the child of an Immortal. Echekles married Polymele and raised Eudoros as if he were his own.

Autolykos

Autolykos (Autolycus) was a thief, and a very good one. As the son of Hermes and Chione, Autolykos possessed the power of changing the shape of whatever he stole and making it and himself invisible. Autolykos was the father of Antikleia (Anticleia) thus making him the maternal grandfather of Odysseus.

Dolops

Dolops was son of Hermes and the eponymous ancestor of the Dolopians, i.e. the inhabitants of Dolopia in southwestern Thessaly.

(Back to Top)

Hermes and Odysseus

After the Trojan War was over (circa 1250 BCE), most of the victorious Greek commanders returned to their homes without incident ... King Odysseus of Ithaka (Ithaca) was not so lucky. His ten-year voyage home was epic in every way. Odysseus would have not survived his ordeal without Hermes's intervention.

After leaving Troy, Odysseus incurred the wrath of Poseidon (lord of the Sea) by maiming one of the god's sons. Poseidon swore vengeance against Odysseus but Zeus would not let Poseidon kill Odysseus ... the angry god had to be content with tormenting Odysseus and delaying his homecoming. At the will of Poseidon, Odysseus was forced to confront the Dread Goddess Kirke and then stranded on Kalypso's island.

(Back to Top)

Hermes and Kirke

After a tragic encounter with the giant Laistrygones, Odysseus and his comrades came to the island of Aiaia (Aeaea), the home of the Dread Goddess Kirke (Circe).

Odysseus sent out a scouting party and only one man returned. The survivor reported that his companions had been turned into pigs with human faces by the goddess of the island. Odysseus was determined to save his companions from this cruel fate but also determined that he would not endanger any more of his crewmembers. He went alone through the lonely forest that led to Kirke's palace.

Along the trail, Odysseus met Hermes in the guise of a young man. Hermes told Odysseus that he would help save the men Kirke had bewitched but it would be necessary for Odysseus to act decisively and carefully follow instructions or he too might be transformed into a beast. Hermes reached down and pulled a plant called 'moly' from the ground and said that mere mortals found it difficult to dig-up the plant but he, as a god, could do all things. Hermes explained that when Kirke offered Odysseus one of her dreadful potions he was to secretly put the 'moly' in the concoction to render it harmless ... to complete the spell, it would be necessary for Kirke to touch Odysseus with her wand ... at that moment, Odysseus was to draw his sword and hold the goddess hostage until she released Odysseus's men from their animal forms.

Odysseus accepted the 'moly' from Hermes and went boldly to Kirke's palace. She welcomed him with false sincerity and offered him one of her vile potions ... Odysseus put the 'moly' in the goblet and to Kirke's delight, drank it down. When Kirke thought the drug had taken effect, she tried to strike Odysseus with her wand but Odysseus drew his sword and sprang upon the goddess before she could defend herself. The astonished Kirke surrendered instantly. She released the twenty-two pig-men from their cage and ceremoniously anointed them with another one of her potions. The men seemed to be restored to their original forms but they were taller and more handsome than before they had been enswined.

An interesting thing about Odysseus's confrontation with Kirke is that when Odysseus drew his sword and threatened Kirke, she knew at once that Odysseus was the man that Hermes had told her to expect. Apparently, Hermes had gone to Kirke and informed her of future events before they happened.

(Back to Top)

Hermes and Kalypso

In The Odyssey by Homer, the long-suffering hero Odysseus was stranded on the island of Ogygia for seven years as the guest/captive of the Nymph Kalypso (Calypso). By the time Odysseus reached Ogygia, all of his shipmates were dead. Kalypso offered Odysseus immortality and a life of ease if he would only consent to stay with her, but the stubborn man was intent on returning to his family and could not be tempted by anything Kalypso had to offer.

The goddess Athene (Athena) had repeatedly tried to intervene on Odysseus's behalf but Zeus continually sided with his brother Poseidon and allowed Odysseus's torment to continue. Finally, Zeus sent Hermes to Ogygia to order Kalypso to release Odysseus.

Hermes went to the Nymph goddess and tried to use gentle persuasion before he pronounced the uncontestable will of Zeus. Hermes informed Kalypso that Odysseus must be allowed to leave and she was not to hinder him in any way. Kalypso argued with Hermes and recounted the numerous mortals who had been chosen by Immortals to be their companions. Her arguments were in vain. She knew that Hermes was simply the messenger and that no matter how much he sympathized with her situation, he could not alter the will of Zeus.

(Back to Top)

Argeiphontes

Hermes is often called Argeiphontes, i.e. The Slayer of Argos, because the slaying of the herdsman Argos (Argus) was a momentous event that had repercussions throughout the Greek and Egyptian worlds for generations after the event.

Io was the beautiful daughter of Inachus, king of the city of Argos on the Peloponnesian Peninsula. She began having strange dreams with voices and visions telling her to leave her bed and go into a field where Zeus could 'see' her. She told her father of the dreams and he sought advice from the oracles at Pytho and Dodona but they could offer no help. Finally, he sent an embassy to Loxias. For the oracles of Loxias, the meaning was crystal clear. They advised Inachus to disown his daughter, cast her into the streets and drive her from his country. If this was not done, the oracles warned, Zeus would eradicate Inachus and his people without mercy. With heavy heart, Inachus obeyed the oracles and forced his young daughter Io from his house.

Zeus's sister/wife, Hera had not missed the drama unfolding in the land of Argos. She was angered by Zeus's (attempted) infidelity so she punished Zeus by punishing Io. As Io fled in tears from her father's house, she began to change. Horns popped out on her head and, as she ran, she completely transformed into a black and white heifer. A gadfly began to sting and pester her, forcing her to run farther and farther from her home and happiness.

Hera wanted to be sure that Zeus could not be alone with his new infatuation so she set the herdsman Argos to follow the Heifer-Maiden. Argos was called Argos Panoptes, meaning 'all seeing' because he had eyes placed all over his body. Some accounts say that he had one hundred eyes but the poet Aeschylus said that he had ten thousand eyes. Io was terrified of Argos and she fled from his fearsome gaze and the annoying sting of the ever-present gadfly.

Zeus was inflamed when he saw Argos watching Io. With Argos on guard he couldn't secretly meet with the lovely Io so he instructed Hermes to kill Argos. Hermes lulled the herdsman to sleep with sweet music and then beheaded the sleeping watchman before he could defend himself. Io was finally free of the all-seeing Argos and Hermes became Argeiphontes. Io eventually settled in Egypt where her curse was lifted.

(Back to Top)

Hermes and Aphrodite

As the goddess of Love, Aphrodite was as mischievous as she was beautiful. Her affair with Ares, god of War, might have been just another one of her whimsical indulgences but when the two lovers were caught in the act, only Hermes had the last laugh.

Even though Aphrodite was married to the lame god Hephaistos (Hephaestus), she began flirting with Ares. The two lovers were very discrete but Hephaistos found out about their secret trysts and began plotting his revenge. Hephaistos was the master of clever devices so it was not difficult for him to make a trap for Aphrodite and Ares that would be undetectable and inescapable.

Once the lovers were hopelessly ensnared, Hephaistos called forth the other Immortals to witness Aphrodite's unfaithfulness. Ares and Aphrodite could do nothing but suffer through the humiliation. Seeing the lovers caught in the act, Apollon asked Hermes how he would feel if he was trapped in such an embarrassing position. The lighthearted Hermes replied that he would "suffer thrice the bindings if only he could share the bed of Aphrodite the golden."

Apparently Hermes did share the bed of golden Aphrodite because they had a son named Hermaphroditus who had the characteristics of both sexes.

(Back to Top)

Hermes and King Priam

In The Iliad by Homer, Hermes was chosen by Zeus to escort King Priam through the battlelines to retrieve the body of his fallen son, Hector. Achilles killed Hector and refused to return his body to his family for a hero's burial. Zeus took pity on King Priam and arranged for Hermes to guide the king through the Achaean (Achaian) defenses without coming to harm.

After Priam and his servant left the safety of the walls of the city of Troy, Hermes disguised himself as a young man and waited for them on the road. Priam was a leader and king because of his quick mind, he immediately recognized the scruffy stranger as an Immortal and spoke respectfully to him. Hermes took Priam through the battlelines and past the Achaean guards without being seen. Hermes opened the gates to Achilles's compound and then disappeared into thin air. Priam went to murderous Achilles as a supplicant and begged for the return of his son's body so that he and his family might give the Trojan hero a proper funeral. Achilles knew that the return of Hector's body was the commandment of Zeus and could not refuse Priam's request. While Achilles's servants prepared Hector's body, Priam slept. As Eos (Dawn) approached, Hermes roused Priam and safely led the grieving father and his once glorious son back to Troy.

(Back to Top)

Hermes and the Golden Fleece

Before the adventures of Odysseus and a generation before the fall of the city of Troy, Hermes was a part of one of the greatest epics of the ancient Greek world ... the Quest for the Golden Fleece by Jason and the Argonauts. Several of Hermes's sons were Argonauts ... the brothers Erytos (Erytus) and Echion as well as Aithalides (Aethalides) who served as the herald for the Argonauts.

The Golden Fleece that Jason and the Argonauts sought was from a golden ram which had been created by Hermes and the Nymph, Nephele (Cloud).

Nephele married a mortal named Athamas who was the king of Orchomenos (Orchomenus) and they had two children ... a girl named Helle and a boy named Phrixus. Eventually Athamas rejected Nephele for a mortal woman named Ino. Athamas's new wife had no love for Nephele's children and plotted to kill Phrixus by offering him as a sacrifice.

In order to save Phrixus's life, Nephele and Hermes created a golden ram to carry the two children to safety. The youths flew away from Orchomenos on the ram but Helle fell from the ram's back and drowned in the sea. The body of water into which Helle plunged was thereafter called Helle's Sea, the Hellespont. Phrixus escaped to the land of Kolchis (Colchis) and was given sanctuary by King Aietes (Aeetes).

At the bidding of Hermes, Phrixus offered the ram as a sacrifice at the altar of Zeus and hung the ram's Golden Fleece in the Garden of Ares. The quest of Jason and the Argonauts was to retrieve the fleece and return it to Greece. When the Argonauts arrived in Kolchis, Jason did not want to have his presence known until he was in the presence of King Aietes. Jason took the wand of Hermes from Aithalides and became invisible. When the mist of invisibility was lifted, the king and his entourage were suitably impressed.

After Jason completed a series of trials, King Aietes still refused to surrender the Golden Fleece. With the aid of the king's daughter Medeia (Medea), Jason stole the fleece and made his escape from Kolchis.

(Back to Top)

Encounters With Hermes

Hermes and Aegisthus

After the Trojan War was over and the Greeks returned to their homes, the Achaean commander King Agamemnon was greeted with death instead of a hero's welcome. Agamemnon's cousin Aegisthus had seduced Agamemnon's wife Klytemnestra (Clytemnestra) and to compound his crime, was plotting to kill Agamemnon when he returned to Mycenae.

There were two attempts made to save Agamemnon from certain death but both failed. The ghost of Achilles appeared to Agamemnon and told him of the danger he faced but Agamemnon was too proud to show fear. Zeus sent Hermes to Aegisthus and made it very clear that Agamemnon was not to be harmed but Aegisthus ignored Zeus's command and killed Agamemnon anyway. For defying Zeus, Agamemnon's son Orestes killed Aegisthus.

The Disrespect of Alkibiades

The Athenian politician and general Alkibiades (Alcibiades) was alternately admired and despised by the people of Athens. He had earned their admiration for his military campaigns but his desecration of a Hermae ensured his death. Hermae were tributes to Hermes carved in stone with his head atop a square column and a protruding phallic member. Hermae were common in Athens and most Greek cities because they demonstrated the virility and manliness of Hermes in a very graphic and appropriate way.

Alkibiades was forced to flee Athens and lived in Sparta until his assassination by the Persians in 404 BCE. It should be no surprise that after the desecration of the Hermae, Alkibiades lived in disgrace and was finally unceremoniously murdered.

The Reward of Baukis and Philemon

As is the custom of the Immortals, Zeus and Hermes were wandering the countryside disguised as mortals to observe and test the devotion of their subjects. When they came upon the humble abode of Baukis (Baucis) and her husband Philemon, the two gods were welcomed with sincere friendliness. When a flood threatened to wash away their home and kill Baukis and Philemon, the gods transformed them into trees as a reward for their hospitality.

Slaying the Giant Hippolytus

Hippolytus was one of the huge monsters collectively known as Giants. The Giants were the children of Gaia (Earth) engendered by the blood of Ouranos (the Heavens).

The Giants waged an unsuccessful war on the Olympians and were severely punished after their defeat. Hermes as well as many other Immortals participated in the extermination of the Giants. During the battle, Hermes donned the Helm of Hades and became invisible. He attacked and killed Hippolytus.

The Rescue of Ion

Apollon had relations with a mortal woman named Kreusa (Creusa) and became the father of Ion. Kreusa did not understand the ways of the Immortals and was shamed to have had a child without a legal father. She took the infant to a cave and left it to die. Hermes saw the callous deed and rescued the child.

Hermes took the infant Ion to the Temple of Apollon at Delphi where he remained until Kreusa and her husband Xuthus found him through the intervention of the temple priestesses. Kreusa and Xuthus were childless and sought the guidance of the Pythia (priestess of Apollon at Delphi). The Pythia told them to adopt the first child they encountered after leaving the temple. When they met young Ion, Kreusa immediately saw the resemblance to her husband and thought that he was the illegitimate son of Xuthus by another woman. Kreusa was giong to kill Ion but the priestess of Apollon showed her the swaddling clothing in which the infant was wrapped when he had been left at the temple. Kreusa accepted the fact that Ion was her abandoned child so she and Xuthus took the child to the city of Athens where, according to the goddess Athene (Athena), a prophecy had been fulfilled whereas Ion would become the founder of the Ionian race.

The Sword of Perseus

Perseus was the son of Zeus who was destined to kill Medusa, the Gorgon.

Medusa and her sisters were formidable and in order to confront them, Perseus was required to make careful preparations. Perseus first sought out the sisters of the Gorgons, the Graiai, who were gray from birth and shared one tooth and one eye between them. Perseus stole their tooth and eye and using them as ransom, forced the Graiai to give him the location of the Nymphs who had possession of the Cap of Hades (which would make him invisible), a pair of winged sandals (for flying) and a kibisis (a bag to hold Medusa's head).

Perseus still needed a suitable weapon. He obtained a sword (or sickle) from Hermes and set out to slay Medusa. Although Hermes was only one cog in the wheel of Medusa's death, the feat could not have been completed without his assistance.

Saving Dionysos From the Flames

Thyone was the daughter of Harmonia and King Kadmos (Cadmus) of Thebes. Thyone became the consort of Zeus and thus incurred the wrath of Zeus's sister/wife Hera. Hera enchanted Thyone and prompted her pray to Zeus for eternal life. Also, Hera induced Thyone to ask Zeus for the ability to see him in all his immortal glory. The thunder and lightning that accompanied Zeus's true nature was fatal to Thyone. As Thyone was consumed in flames, Zeus made her immortal and her immortal name became Semele.

Since Thyone was pregnant, Zeus could not allow his unborn son to die with Thyone's mortal body. He sent Hermes to rescue the babe and take it to a safe place. Hermes did as he was instructed and gave the babe to Makris (Macris), daughter of Aristaios, on the island of Euboia. Makris soothed the child but was soon driven from her home by Hera. Zeus took the premature infant and sewed it into his thigh so that it might have his protection. Dionysos was re-born on Mount Nysos (Nysa). The name Dionysos literally means God of Nysos, i.e. Dio = God and Nysos = Mount Nysos.

Hermes is also known as:

Argeiphontes - The Slayer of Argos

Diaktoros - The Minister or Messenger of Zeus

(Back to Top)

Hermes is often confused with the Roman god, Mercurius.

Hermes

Text References
Images of Hermes
Immortals Index
Home Page
Copyrighted Material