Head of Hermes. Statue of the 2nd century A.D. from Turkey.
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Image courtesy of Corel Corporation.
Hermes was the god of eloquence, games of chance,
commerce, and story telling, and was the messenger-god of
Zeus. He was the offspring of Zeus and Zeus' mistress-goddess, Maia, who in turn
was the daughter of the titan Atlas. Hermes was known to the Romans as the god Mercury.
Hermes was very clever, and he used this to his advantage against more powerful gods. When he was just a baby, Hermes stole Apollo's cattle. He made them walk backwards, so as to make the footprints lead away from the hiding spot. When confronted by Apollo in front of Zeus, Hermes agreed to show Apollo where the cattle were hidden.
Eventually, Apollo and Hermes became great friends. Hermes was a very good lyre player. He gave his instrument to Apollo as a gift, forming a permanent bond between the two. Hermes had a son named Pan.
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