Hermes in His Own Words
I am Hermes: god of merchants, shepherds, weights and measures, oratory, literature, athletics, thieves, and land travel. As if that weren’t enough, I’m incredibly strong and manly, and I’ve fathered over twenty-five children. I am also worshiped by the Romans and Gauls. In a nutshell, I’m awesome.
I was just on my way to Athens to find more dead spirits. One of my jobs as messenger of the gods is to deliver the head to Hades; I also deliver dreams and send messages for Zeus.
My godliness literally began the morning after I was conceived. Zeus got together with Maia, considered the most beautiful of the Pleiades, in the dead of night while the other gods slept. At the break of dawn, I popped out. Zeus went back to Hera, leaving Maia to her own devices. She wrapped me in swaddling bands, laid down, and went to sleep. I, however, squirmed out of my clothing and ran to Thessaly, where Apollo tended his sheep. I stole them and then ran back to Arcadia.
On the way back, I caught a tortoise. I killed it, scooped out its innards, and strung the intestines of one of my cows over the shell. In so doing, I created the first lyre.
I hid my cows in a grotto near Pylos, ran home, and wrapped myself back in the swaddling bands. Then I went to sleep. When Apollo arrived, he accused me of stealing his herd. Maia said this was not possible because I had been sleeping. Zeus, the great father that he is, came down and snitched on me. While the three of them were arguing, I played my lyre. Apollo fell in love with the music and offered to give up the cows in exchange for the lyre. I agreed and thus became Hermes Kriophoros, the “ram bearer” and patron of shepherds and flocks.
This was not the last of my instrumental creations. Later I created the pan pipes and the flute, the latter of which I traded to Apollo for his golden wand: my herald’s staff. Some storytellers say that Zeus gave it to me. They’re wrong.
I participated in the Trojan War, mainly to save Odysseus’s arse. I used my cunning to persuade Calypso to release Odysseus from her charms. I also saved him and his men from being turned into pigs by Circe; I gave them an herb to resist the spell so they could continue their journey. I also had a part in the beginning of the war: I led Hera, Aphrodite, and Athena to Mount Ida to be judged by Paris.
I’ve had many partners and many children, almost as many as Big Daddy Zeus, but unfortunately none of my progeny are powerful yet. The result of my union with Aphrodite was Hermaphroditus. He was approached by the Naiad Salmacis but resisted her. Later she came up from the water while he was swimming, grabbed him, and kissed him. She prayed to the gods that they never be separated; the gods united their two bodies into one, so from then on Hermaphroditus had both male and female sex organs. And he’s my most famous child! Others you may have heard of are Pan, half-man and half-goat, and Abderus, companion to Heracles.
But enough about me. I’ve really got to get to Athens and escort their dead. Hopefully, you now understand me enough to want to worship me for reasons besides my irresistible body. Thank you for this interview. Really. Moments like this help me remember how important I am. See you around!