Page:Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology (1870) - Volume 2.djvu/427

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numerous statues of the god were erected on roads, at doors and gates, from which circumstance he derived a variety of surnames and epithets. As the god of commerce, he was called διέμπορος, ἐμπολαῖος, παλιγκάπηλος, κερδέμπορος, ἀγοραῖος, &c. (Aristoph. Plut. 1155; Pollux, vii. 15; Orph. Hymn. xxvii. 6; Paus. i. 15. § 1, ii. 9. §. 7, iii. 11. § 8, &c.); and as commerce is the source of wealth, Hermes is also the god of gain and riches, especially of sudden and unexpected riches, such as are acquired by commerce. As the giver of wealth and good luck (πλουτοδότης), he also presided over the game of dice, and those who played it threw an olive leaf upon the dice, and first drew this leaf. (Hom. Il. vii. 183; Aristoph. Pax, 365; Eustath. ad Hom. p. 675.) We have already observed that Hermes was considered as the inventor of sacrifices, and hence he not only acts the part of a herald at sacrifices (Aristoph. Pax, 433), but is also the protector of sacrificial animals, and was believed in particular to increase the fertility of sheep. (Hom. Hymn. in Merc. 567, &c., Il. xiv. 490, 1xiv. 180, &c; Hes. Theog. 444.) For this reason he was especially worshipped by shepherds, and is mentioned in connection with Pan and the Nymphs. (Hom. Od. xiv. 435; Eustath. ad Hom. p. 1766; Aristoph. Thesm. 977; Paus. viii. 16. § 1; ix. 34. § 2; Schol. ad Soph. Philoct. 14, 59.) This feature in the character of Hermes is a remnant of the ancient Arcadian religion, in which he was the fertilising god of the earth, who conferred his blessings on man; and some other traces of this character occur in the Homeric poems. (Il. xxiv. 360, Od. viii. 335, xvi. 185, Hymn. in Merc. 27.)

Another important function of Hermes was his being the patron of all the gymnastic games of the Greeks. This idea seems to be of late origin, for in the Homeric poems no trace of it is found; and the appearance of the god, such as it is there described, is very different from that which we might expect in the god of the gymnastic art. But as his images were erected in so many places, and among them, at the entrance of the gymnasia, the natural result was, that he, like Heracles and the Dioscuri, was regarded as the protector of youths and gymnastic exercises and contests (Pind. Nem. x. 53), and that at a later time the Greek artists derived their ideal of the god from the gymnasium, and represented him as a youth whose limbs were beautifully and harmoniously developed by gymnastic exercises. Athens seems to have been the first place in which he was worshipped in this capacity. (Pind. Pyth. ii. 10, Isthm. i. 60; Aristoph. Plut. 1161.) The numerous descendants of Hermes are treated of in separate articles. It should be observed that the various functions of the god led some of the ancients to assume a plurality of gods of this name. Cicero (de Nat. Deor. iii. 22) distinguishes five, and Servius (ad Aen. i. 301, iv. 577) four; but these numbers also include foreign divinities, which were identified by the Greeks with their own Hermes.

The most ancient seat of his worship is Arcadia, the land of his birth, where Lycaon, the son of Pelasgus, is said to have built to him the first temple. (Hygin. Fab. 225.) From thence his worship was carried to Athens, and ultimately spread through all Greece. The festivals celebrated in his honour were called Ἕρμαια. (Dict. of Ant. s. v.) His temples and statues (Dict. of Ant. s.v. Hermae) were extremely numerous in Greece. The Romans identified him with Mercury. [MERCURIUS.] Among the things sacred to him we may mention the palm tree, the tortoise, the number four, and several kinds of fish; and the sacrifices offered to him consisted of incense, honey, cakes, pigs, and especially lambs and young goats. (Paus. vii. 22. § 2; Aristoph. Plut. 1121, 1144; Hom. Od. xiv. 435, xix. 397; Athen. i. p. 16.)

The principal attributes of Hermes are: 1. A travelling hat, with a broad brim, which in later times was adorned with two little wings; the latter, however, are sometimes seen arising from his locks, his head not being covered with the hat. 2. The staff (ῥάβδος or σκῆπτρον): it is frequently mentioned in the Homeric poems as the magic staff by means of which he closes and opens the eyes of mortals, but no mention is made of the person or god from whom he received it, nor of the entwining serpents which appear in late works of art. According to the Homeric hymn and Apollodorus, he received it from Apollo; and it appears that we must distinguish two staves, which were afterwards united into one: first, the ordinary herald's staff (Il. vii. 277, xviii. 505), and secondly, a magic staff, such as other divinities also possessed. (Lucian, Dial. Deor. vii. 5; Virg. Aen. iv. 242, &c.) The white ribbons with which the herald's staff was originally surrounded were changed by later artists into two serpents (Schol. ad Thuc. i. 53; Macrob. Sat. i. 19; comp. Hygin. Poet. Astr. ii. 7; Serv. ad Aen. iv. 242, viii. 138), though the ancients themselves accounted for them either by tracing them to some feat of the god, or by regarding them as symbolical representations of prudence, life, health, and the like. The staff, in later times, is further adorned with a pair of wings, expressing the rapidity with which the messenger of the gods moved from place to place. 3. The sandals (πέδιλα.) They were beautiful and golden, and carried the god across land and sea with the rapidity of wind; but Homer no where says or suggests that they were provided with wings. The plastic art, on the other hand, required some outward sign to express this quality of the god's sandals, and therefore formed wings at his ancles, whence he is called πτηνοπέδιλος, or alipes. (Orph. Hymn. xxvii. 4; Ov. Met. xi. 312.) In addition to these attributes, Hermes sometimes holds a purse in his hands. Several representations of the god at different periods of his life, as well as in the discharge of his different functions, have come down to us. (Hirt, Mythol. Bilderb. i. p. 63, &c.) [L. S.]


HERMES, a Greek rhetorician, who is mentioned in the work ad Herennium (i. 11), where he is called doctor noster, and an opinion of his is quoted. The MSS. of that passage, however, vary, some having Hermes, and others Hermestes. Some critics have conjectured Hermagoras, but the opinion quoted in the work ad Herennium does not agree with what we know to have been the opinion of Hermagoras. [L. S.]


HERMES and HERMES TRISMEGISTUS ( Ἑρμῆς and Ἑρμῆς Τρισμέγιστος), the reputed author of a variety of works, some of which are still extant. In order to understand their origin and nature, it is necessary to cast a glance at the philosophy of the New Platonists and its objects. The religious ideas of the Greeks were viewed as in some way connected with those of the Egyptians