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The Ancient Greek Myths of Hermes

Since Hermes was the messenger of the gods, it is no wonder that he appeared in a wide range of ancient Greek tales. From assisting infamous kings to helping great warriors defeat monsters in their path, Hermes is well represented in ancient myths. In this article, you will learn more about the god born with an undeniable swiftness.

Role in the Iliad

Homer wrote the Iliad to tell the story of the Trojan War. It is here that he mentions Hermes as helping King Priam of Troy to sneak into the Achaean encampment so that he could confront Achilles and convince him to return the body of his son, Hector. Hermes is also known as a guide of the dead , a role that appears in the Iliad. As the body of Sarpedon is carried away from the battlefield at Troy, it is the twin-winged gods, Hypnos (Sleep) and Thanatos (Death) who complete the deed. It is Hermes that oversees this process.

Role in the Odyssey

The sequel to the Iliad was called the Odyssey and focused on the adventures of the Greek hero Odysseus , the grandson of Hermes. The epic poem gives details on the long journey home that the hero must endure after the fall of Troy. Just as the Trojan War lasted for 10 years, it takes Odysseus the same amount of time to return to his home in Ithaca. Hermes After Zeus tells Hermes to give Calypso the OK to let go Odysseus from the island of Ogygia. Odysseus receives protection from his grandfather against Circe. He gives him a plant called moly, which makes him untouched in regards to shape-shifting spells. Hermes is also mentioned later in the poem , taking on the role of guide of the dead , leading the newly deceased to the Underworld.

Perseus

Perseus benefits from the help of Hermes as he attempts to kill Medusa , the gorgon with the power to turn a man to stone with one look into her eyes. The god lends Perseus his winged sandals and sends him in the direction of the Gray Sisters so that he could find his way to the nymphs of the North. When he reaches the nymphs, he gains possession of Zeus’ sword, Hades’ helmet, and Athena’s shield.

Additional Tales

Hermes appears in many other ancient Greek myths, including the following tales:
Orpheus was a musician who earned a reputation for being able to charm all living things (and some non living things, such as stones) with his music. Hermes brought Eurydice (Orpheus’ wife) back to Hades after Orpheus failed to bring her back to life. Hades had warned against looking back and for his disobedience, he was punished with losing his love.   

Hera was married to Zeus, who was known to cheat on her with many different females. She was constantly jealous and suspicious of others , taking her distrust and wrath out on those she thought her husband was interested in. When the god Dionysus was born, Hera killed his mother, who was a mortal named Semele. Hermes was designated to protect the infant.
 
The Minyades were three sisters who were the offspring of Minyas. They appear in a myth where they do not worship Dionysus and are punished for this act. They were driven mad and sent into a frenzy until finally Hermes changed them into bats.