In Greek mythology Hermes is the son of Zeus and Maia (the daughter of Atlas). In his youth Hermes is regarded as a prankster. In Homer‘s Odyssey he’s depicted as a mature messenger of the gods and conductor of souls to Hades. But he has many other functions, outlined in different sources.
In the Homeric Hymn to Hermes he’s described as the protector or travelers, harlots, old women, thieves, and foot runners. The Homeric hymns are called as such because they follow the same form and pattern as Homer’s work. Ancient scholars assumed they were Homer’s work. But today scholars question not only their authorship but also the authorship of works attributed to Homer.
Scholars are also uncertain as to Hermes’ origin. His cult appears in the remote regions of Greece, where’s he’s chiefly regarded as a nature God, assisting the simple farmers and shepherds of the region. But where he came from remains a mystery. Some say he is indigenous to the area, and worshipped since Neolithic times. Others maintain that he came to Greece from Asia, possibly through Cyprus or Cilicia.
The Romans, as they often did, adapted the Greek Hermes into the god Mercury. The Roman Mercury shared many characteristics with Hermes. So today, when we say someone has a “mercurial” personality, this can ultimately be traced back to Hermes, the messenger who roamed among different realms and, as such, rarely sat still.
C. G. Jung was particularly interested in Hermes, seeing him as a symbolic link among various aspects of consciousness and unconsciousness.
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