Hermes

Greek: Ἑρμης (Hermes) * Latin: Mercurius/Mercury * English: Hermes

Hermes in Mythology

Zeus commanded that glorious Hermes should be lord over all birds of omen and grim-eyed lions, and boars with gleaming tusks, and over dogs and all flocks that the wide earth nourishes, and over all sheep. Also that he only should be the appointed messenger to Hades, who, though he charges no price, bestows the ultimate prize. Hermes consorts with all mortals and immortals alike with little profit, and continually, throughout the dark night, he deceives the tribes of mortal men.
— Homeric Hymn 9 to Hermes

Divine Domains

Roads, Travelers, Thieves, Gamblers, Merchants, Commerce, Speech, Interpretation, and Flocks. As the only Olympian allowed access to Hades's realm, Hermes is tasked with guiding departed souls to their final destination.

Divine Symbols & Sigils

Kerykeion

A short, winged staff entangled with two snakes. In Latin, a caduceus. Hermes's Kerykeion had the power to put people into sleep or to rouse them.  

Petasos

A broad-brimmed hat that's sometimes also depicted as winged.  

Talaria

A pair of winged sandals.  

A Purse

Or perhaps it was a sachel.  

Animals

Snake, Rooster, Tortoise, Ram, Hawk  

Plants

Crocus, Strawberry-tree

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Also Known As Argeiphontes, the Giant-Slayer
Divine Classification
Olympian God

History Note:

Most scholars think that Hermes’s name derives from the Greek word herma, meaning “a heap of stones” or “cairn.” Such heaps in the Ancient world served as trail- or boundary-markers, making it a natural name for a deity who looked after travelers. In later periods, the herma was replaced by a stone that was often topped with a carving of Hermes's head and a body part that pointed a direction of travel.   Hermes had such a reputation for being a smooth talker that today, the science of interpretation is still known as hermeneutics.   Hermes's two-snake-wrapped staff, the Kerykeion (Caduceus in Latin), is often confused with the single-snake-wrapped Rod of Asclepius. Only the Rod should rightly be associated with medical practice, but the Kerykeion is often depicted instead.

Character Portrait image: Detail from "Prometheus chained by Vulcan" by Dirck van Baburen (c. 1594/5-1624)

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