Day 17: How does this deity relate to other gods and other pantheons?
17. As a trickster, Hermes tends to change with the ‘flavor’ of pantheon He chooses to manifest in. He traveled around the ancient world, a lot…and in each incarnation of Him, Hermes maintains this undercurrent of what Karl Kerényi explains as the ‘Hermes’ Idea’. From his classic, “Hermes: Guide of Souls”, Kerényi quotes:“Whatever may have been thought of Hermes in primitive times,” we read at the conclusion of Otto’s superb portrait of Hermes, “he must once have struck the eye as a brilliant flash out of the depths, that it saw a world in the God, and the God in the whole world. This is the origin of the figure of Hermes, which Homer recognized and which later generations held fast to.”
He is a friend to other deities, at least He appears to be. As mutable psychopompos, Hermes escorts Gods across the Multiverse (King Priam in The Illiad) and the Dead to the Underworld. As Herald of the Gods, He delivers messages which require secrecy or stealth (Kalypso in The Odyssey) , and sometimes He is the assassin (Argus). The lore indicates Hermes helps sheild illicit affairs between deities, nymphs and humans alike.
Although Himself never married, Hermes is best known for His love of Aphrodite. In one story, Zeus steals a sandal and gives it to for Hermes to return. True to His personality, Hermes offers the sandal back to Aphrodite if She sleeps with Him…which She reluctantly agrees to. Secretly, I think She liked it and was just playing hard to get…which is NEVER a good idea with such a quick, determined God! In another of His sexual pursuits, it was the sister of Herse which tried to cock-block Him…so Hermes just turned her into black marble!
It appears to me, Hermes hangs out a lot with His brother Apollo. Even though they got off to a bad start, these two are always swapping and conspiring, paling around as it were. He is also very close to His Father Zeus, loyal to the end and more than happy to please. But does Hermes have any ‘friends’? Well, I like to think of Hekate as His friend. Although there doesn’t appear to be much lore surrounding any interactions between these two, they are co-workers in a way…guiding souls of the Dead, escorting Gods, all part of the psychopomp role.“Brimo [Hekate], who as legend tells, by the waters of Boebeis [in Thessalia] laid her virgin body at Mercurius’ [Hermes’] side.” (Propertius, Elegies 2. 29c.
I invite any interested in finding other modern connections between Hekate and Hermes to check out the following links:
The Hermes and Hekate Roadshow, an interesting podcast recorded in the old radio show style of storytelling, with voice actors, sound effects and a very modern take on these two deities.
Hermes & Hekate – As Divine Consorts, a good thorough piece written by Joseph Constantine.