God of the Week: Hermes

God of the Week 9/14/09: Hermes


More than just a messenger boy, Hermes eventually became merged with the Egyptian god Thoth to form the basis of his own Hellenistic religion. Hermeticism originated in late antiquity along side Gnosticism and Christianity and was revitalized during the Renaissance.

Son of Zeus, Hermes was the Greek messenger of the gods, as well as the god of shepherds and travelers. He escorted the souls of the dead to Hades . He is featured in the Homeric works The Iliad and The Odyssey, as well as  The Hymn of Hermes (in which he had the titular role). His major temple was in Arcadia, though he was worshiped all over Greece.

In Hermeticism, Hermes Trismegistus was believed to be merger of Hermes and Thoth who left his wisdom in the Corpus Hermeticum. Hermeticism was sometimes used as a mystical philosophy in conjunction with other religions. Plutarch mentioned Hermes Trismegistus in the first century CE and some Hermetic writings were found along side Gnostic writings in the Nag Hammadi library.

Hermes carried a short serpent entwined staff known as the caduceus and (along with the rod of Asklepius) it is commonly used as the modern symbol of medicine.

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3 Comments on “God of the Week: Hermes”

  1. and Mercury was the Roman equivalent of Hermes. They even dressed alike.

    • The first mythology books I read were Roman so I use to always used the Roman names. But, now I try to stick to the Greek names. The Romans were, after all, responsible for spreading the plague of Christianity.

  2. […] is the ancient Roman god of commerce. Though he was later identified with the Greek god Hermes, he was worshiped by the Romans prior to the synchronization of Roman and Greek religions […]

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