Praxiteles: "Hermes with the Young Dionysus".
Marble sculpture (c. 340 BC.). Archaeological Museum, Olympia.
The statue represents the god Hermes standing in a relaxed pose, holding the infant Dionysus on his arm, and playing with him.
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Hermes and the Birth of Dionysus
Hermes was popular among the gods
because he was playful, innocent, and helpful.
Hermes helped his father, Zeus,
when Dionysus was born.
Dionysus was the son of Semele and Zeus. Semele was the daughter of Cadmus,
the brother of Europa,
and Harmonia, the daughter of
Ares and Aphrodite.
When Zeus and
Semele first got to know each other, Zeus was disguised in simple
clothes. Zeus'wife, Hera, was angry with both Zeus and Semele.
Hera disguised herself as Semele's nurse and made Semele curious about
her new boyfriend.
The next time Zeus visited, Semele made him promise that the
next time he came, he would come to her as he really was.
On his next visit, he came as the god Zeus, and Semele was
consumed to ashes by his brillance. Zeus took Semele's baby, Dionysus, and
nurtured him until he was ready to be born. Once he was born, Zeus
gave Dionysus to Hermes to protect the baby from Zeus' wife, who was
jealous. Hermes put the baby Dionysus in the care of Io, Semele's sister.
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