The Herald of the Gods
Hermes, the herald of the gods, is the son of Zeus and the nymph Maia. He is the god of shepherds, wayfarers, measurements, and literature. He is also the god of the thieves and known for his cunning ways. As the only one of the gods, he often travels to Hades, as it is his job to bring the souls of the deceased there. In addition, Hermes is the bringer of dreams to the mortals. He is often depicted with a winged helmet and with sandals with wings on them. In his hand, he wears a rod, which he has received from Zeus. Hermes is known for his athletic abilities, and at the entrance to any stadium in Greece stands a statue of him.
Hermes is birthed in a mountain cave in Arcadia. When Maia gave birth to him, she wraps him and falls asleep. The little Hermes gets out of his shroud and runs to Thessaly, where his brother Apollo’s beautiful cattle graze. Hermes steals a handful of cows and takes them back. To confuse anyone who would come after him, he lets the cows go backward, and even put bark pieces around his feet. On the way back, he kills a turtle and retains its shell. Using the shell and bowels from one of the cows he has stolen, he produces the first lyre. As he enters the cave, he wraps himself again in the shroud that Maia has given him. The furious Apollo goes to Maia and complains that her son has taken his cattle. Maia looks at Hermes and says it can’t be true. The child is properly wrapped, lying, and sleeping. However, Zeus, who sees everything, commands Hermes to return the cattle to Apollo, but it ends with a trade, where Hermes retains the cattle, and Apollo gets the lure that he soon masters and therefore becomes a symbol of him.
As his parents and siblings, Hermes has numerous affairs with goddesses, nymphs, and mortals. Some legends even claim that he also has sexual relations with sheep and goats. Pan, who is half-human and half-goat, should according to these rumors be the son of Hermes and Dryope. The mother runs at the sight of her son, after which Hermes takes Pan to Olympus, where he ends up being the protector of the fields, forests, and animals. Hermes and Aphrodite get the son/daughter Hermaphrodite, who is raised by the naiads (the water nymphs). Hermaphrodite is androgynous and is portrait as a man with breasts or a woman with a penis.
Hermes is the one who releases Io. When Hera discovers that Io is Zeus’ mistress, she blames him for his adultery, and he shamelessly lies about it. He transforms Io into a white cow, but Hera claims the cow and sends the monster Argos with the 100 eyes to take care of her. Hermes plays so beautifully on his flute that Argos falls asleep, after which Hermes cuts off his head and releases Io. When Hera discovers this, she sends a hornet after poor Io, who is hunted from country to country. On her long flight, she passes the mountain in the Caucasus, where Prometheus is chained. Prometheus comforts her and says that she will find peace one day and that the sea she is fleeing alongside with will come to bear her name, the Ionian Sea. Io eventually ends up in Egypt, where she gets her human form back. Here she gives birth to the son of Zeus, who in the opinion of anyone is the same as the holy Apis bull. In gratitude to Argos, Hermes puts his 100 eyes on the tail of the peacock, which is the holy bird of Hera.
Hermes also plays a role in one of the heroes’ lives, Odysseus of Ithaca. First, he prevents Odysseus and his men from being turned into pigs by the sorceress Circe by giving them a special powder. Next, he persuades the nymph Calypso to let Odysseus escape after seven years in her cave. The poor Calypso dies of sorrow after Odysseus has left her.
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Next time I will tell the tale of Ares – The God of War