Profile: Hermes

This is a post for my March book challenge, #marchmonthofmythology.

Hermes is one of the busiest gods out there. He features in so many myths I decided the best way to introduce him would be a short profile on him. I don’t want anybody to get confused when his name keeps popping up…

Hermes is the child of Zeus and the nymph Maia (daughter of titan Atlas and sea-nymph Pleione). He is the god of everyone and everything connected to roads, meaning:

  1. the roads themselves
  2. a whole bunch of people including but not limited to:
    1. messengers
    2. travelers
    3. merchants
    4. thieves
    5. traveling doctors
    6. guides
    7. interpreters
  3. guiding spirits of the deceased to the Underworld
  4. border crossings
  5. sports
  6. running errands, I guess.

Luckily for him he’s super fast and quick-witted, because he has a lot of jobs to do. Aside from being the god of messengers he’s also the messenger of the gods, which means they send him on a lot of errands. Then he also has to bring all the spirits to the Underworld, which already seems like a full-time job. Yet he somehow still has time to have affairs with mortals – by wikipedia’s count at least 43 of them, which means you could probably find more if you took the time to look for them in the ancient sources. But we’re still not done: he also spends a lot of time helping mortal heroes on their quests, and sometimes goes on adventures of his own!

Hermes is usually depicted wearing sandals with wings (very useful since he has to be able to get everywhere quickly), a traveler’s hat (sometimes also with wings) and a magic staff, which sometimes takes the form of a caduceus – a staff with two snakes intertwined around it and an orb with wings on the top. This staff could be used to put people to sleep (and animals and monsters – you’ll get an example when I tell you the story of Io on the 17th).

The lesson here is that if you’re not sure which Greek god to pray to, Hermes is a pretty safe guess. Next time I make a post about him, I’ll share an amazing story that involves baby Hermes, an invention, and a whole lot of trickery and stealing. I think it might qualify as a weird myth…

Hermes – translated booksIMG_9674.JPG

Since Hermes is the god of interpreters I thought it would be a good idea to create a prompt to celebrate international reading. Most of the translated books I own are probably Dutch translations of ancient Greek and Latin texts. We also have several books translated from Hungarian that we got from my boyfriend’s family – he’s half Hungarian. Apart from that most translated books are probably originally German (like the on in the picture – Inkweb by Cornelia Funke) and French, with some Japanese and Russian added into the mix. I own a few Dutch translations of English books too, but I prefer to read them in the original language. I would prefer to read everything in the original language, but unfortunately I don’t know all languages. Then again, if everyone knew every language, translators would be out of a job.


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