Hermes: the Trickster

Topics: Greek mythology, Hermes, Apollo Pages: 2 (681 words) Published: July 23, 2006
Hermes, son of Zeus, is one of the twelve Olympian Gods in Greek Mythology. He's described as: "blandly cunning, a robber, a cattle driver, a bringer of dreams, a watcher by night, a thief at the gates, one who was soon to show forth wonderful deeds among the deathless gods" in the Homeric Hymn dedicated to Hermes (ll. 1-29). Of all of his attributes, I find that he being a deceptive trickster stands out the most. Greek Mythology tells the story of other deceptive characters, but none of them come close to the level of Hermes. Hermes was a devious character since the day of his birth when he stole the cattle of Apollo. When confronted by Apollo, Hermes told him: "I cannot give news of them, nor win the reward for news. Am I like a cattle-liter, a stalwart person? This is no task for me: rather I care for other things: I care for sleep, and milk of my mother's breast, and wrappings round my shoulders, and warm baths" (Homeric Hymn, ll. 260-277). Here, Hermes denies that he had anything to do with Apollo's cattle by pretending to be an innocent infant that cares more about food and sleep (which he should be). Another point that shows how intelligent Hermes was is when he reversed the marks of the cattle's hoofs: "Also, he bethought him of a crafty ruse and reversed the marks of their hoofs, making the front behind and the hind before, while he himself walked the other way." Zeus found what happened between the two to be very entertaining, he liked Hermes' deceptiveness: "But Zeus laughed out loud to see his evil-plotting child well and cunningly denying guilt about the cattle" (Homeric Hymn, ll. 387-396). That marks the point of Zeus' increasing love and dependence on Hermes as his messenger and aide. Hermes showed another level of deception when he made Apollo forget about his cattle when he played him his newly invented Lyre then gave it to him as a gift (which then became one of Apollo's attributes: as a singer and a poet). It can easily be seen how Hermes...

Bibliography: 1. Barry B. Powell: Classic Myth, Fourth Edidtion (2004).
2. Jules Cashford, Homer: Homeric Hymns.
3. Encyclopedia Mythica:
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