Hermes ("pile of marker stones"), in Greek mythology, was the god of travelers, shepherds, land travel, orators, literature, cunning, poets, athletics, weights and measures, and thieves, and the messenger from the gods to humans. Son of Zeus and a nymph named Maia, Hermes was equivalent to the Roman god Mercury and the Etruscan Turms. Hermes was born in a cave on Mt. Cyllene in Peloponnesus, between Achaia and Arcadia. His origin on Mt. Cyllene explains the origin of an epithet for Hermes: Hermes Cylleneius. He was also referred to as Enagonios. As a psychopomp, Hermes was known as Psychopompos ("conductor of the soul"). The Roman Mercury later absorbed the Dei Lucrii, early gods of commerce and wealth, and were referred to by that name. Hermes was also later combined with the Egyptian Anubis to form Hermanubis.
The name Hermes Trismegistus was used later by alchemists and their like to refer to a mixture-god combining elements from Hermes and the Egyptian god Thoth. This gave birth to Hermeticism
Hermes or Mercury was commonly identified with the Germanic god Wotan/Woden/Odin, hence Latin dies Mercurius corresponds to English Wednesday from Wodnes dæg 'Woden's day'.
Hermes was usually portrayed wearing a broad-brimmed or winged cap, winged sandals and the herald's staff. He wore the garments of a traveler, worker or shepherd. He was represented by purses, roosters and turtles.
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Hermes was worshipped especially fervently by travelers, pilgrims, thieves and poets. Though temples to Hermes existed throughout Greece, Arcadia was a center of his cult. Hermoea were the festivals in his honor, also especially prevalent in Arcadia.
Hermes was a psychopomp, meaning he brought newly-dead souls to the underworld, Hades. He also brought dreams to living mortals.
In addition to the syrinx and the lyre, Hermes invented many types of racing and the entire sport of boxing. Statues of Hermes stood at stadia and gymnasiums throughout Greece.
In very ancient Greece, before his role as protector of merchants and travelers, Hermes was a phallic god, associated with fertility, luck, roads and borders. His name comes the word herma referring to a square or rectangular pillar of stone, or bronze; a bust of Hermes' head, usually with a beard, sat on the top of the pillar, and male genitals adorned the base. The hermai were used to mark roads and borders. In Athens, they were placed outside houses for good luck.
In 415 BCE, when the Athenian fleet was about to set sail for Syracuse during the Peloponnesian War, all of the Athenian hermai were vandalized. Though it was never proven, the Athenians at the time believed it was the work of saboteurs, either from Syracuse or anti-war doves from Athens itself.
Hermes was born on Mt. Cyllene in Arcadia. The story is told in the Hymn to Hermes attributed to Homer.
Hermes later invented the flute, which he bartered with Apollo (or Zeus) for, gaining a golden wand that Hermes used as his staff.
Pan was the son of Hermes and Dryope, a human princess. She was terrified of her ugly, half-goat baby so she ran away. Hermes took the baby to Mt. Olympus, where gods enjoyed the child's laughter and good nature. He became a god worshipped by shepherds and woodsmen particularly.
Abderus was a son of Hermes who was devoured by the Mares of Diomedes. He had gone to the Mares with his friend, Heracles.
Large portions of this text was originally taken from: Wikipedia. (2004). Hermes (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hermes). Retrieved Sept. 23, 2004.