30 Days of Hermes: Lore

Day 4: Favourite myth or myths of this Deity

Now when the Son of Zeus and Maia saw Apollo in a rage about his cattle, he snuggled down in his fragrant swaddling-clothes; and as wood-ash covers over the deep embers of tree-stumps, so Hermes cuddled himself up when he saw the Far-Shooter. He squeezed head and hands and feet together in a small space, like a new born child seeking sweet sleep, though in truth he was wide awake, and he kept his lyre under his armpit." 

Homeric Hymn to HermesI

4. My absolute favourite myth concerns the newborn baby Hermes...who, bored and hungry, steals away from His cradle. Upon seeing the lovely creatures, Hermes rounds up the herd, makes the very first fire to cook meat from; not to be confused with the myth of Prometheus, who stole fire and gave it to humans. Hermes figured out how to create fire itself, divided the meat into 12 and offered the best cuts first to His father Zeus, and tans the hides. All of this Hermes does, and before discovered swiftly runs back to the crib, wearing overly large shoes He fashioned to confuse those on His trail. Well, the herd of cattle belonged to Lord Apollon, the older, half brother of Hermes. When Zeus questioned Hermes, He appeared as a very simple little baby, cute and cooing in the crib. With intervention made with big Daddy Zeus, Apollo trades the little scamp all His cattle for the lyre He hears Hermes playing to persuade the cows; a good trade actually. Hermes makes many “trades” like this, especially with His brother Apollo; from Him, Hermes received the gift of prophecy, the job as Herald of the Olympians and Hades, patron of Travelers and later trades a flute He invented to His brother Apollo for the caduceus.

Young Hermes

Young Hermes

There are several other stories similar to this one, with all kinds of bargaining and trickery. Hermes swears never to lie to Zeus, but somehow still manages to get away with all kinds of shenanigans. Hermes appears in so many primary sources, even as a passing phantom traveling the roads of this realm as a companion to His father Zeus. There is scarcely a well-known story from the ancient world that does NOT include a guest appearance by Hermes. He appears throughout the Illiad, as the Trojans fought off armies of Achaians; although He does not appear to really take sides. Fighting on the side of justice, Hermes joins the fight but also helps to steal the body of Hector so Achilles cannot defile it further. In the Odyssey, He appears as messenger of Zeus before the nymph Callipso...relaying orders that Odysseus must be returned to Ithaca. He is praised through several Hymns from Hesiod, Homer, and Orpheus. He is the father of Pan, slayer of the many-eyed monster Argos, saved Dionysus, and is generally a well-liked God among Gods.