Study Guide

Hermes (Mercury)

  • Spotter's Guide

    Don't blink or you might miss Hermes. He's always whizzing to and from Mount Olympus at lightning speeds. His duties as messenger of the gods and guide to the dead keep him constantly on the go. It's a good thing he's got those winged sandals, or he'd probably never get it all done.

    Physical Description

    Sex: Male
    Age: 30s-40s
    Build: Lean and athletic
    Complexion: Fair
    Hair color: Strawberry blondish
    Facial hair: None
    Scars/marks/tattoos: None
    Jewelry and accessories: Kerykeion or Caduceus (A winged staff with two snakes intertwined around it)
    Clothing: Winged Cap; winged sandals
    Armor: None
    Type of weapon: None

    Typical Companions

    Messengers
    Heralds
    Thieves
    Shepherds
    Merchants
    Travelers
    Tortoises
    Hawks
    Birds of omen

    Other Notes

    Known hangouts: Borders; roads; gymnasiums; banquets; athletic events; near strawberry trees; near crocus flowers; rustic music festivals; the Underworld

    Escape vehicle: His winged sandals; dreams

  • Sightings

    Dec 20, 0799 - Dec 20, 0599

    The Odyssey

    The ancient Greek writer Homer included many of the gods of Olympus in The Odyssey, the story of the hero Odysseus. Hermes was one of the gods who helped Odysseus return home to Ithaca. Hermes warned Odysseus that the witch Circe would turn him and his men into animals and that he should eat a special herb to protect himself. Hermes also delivered a message from Zeus to the nymph Calypso, ordering her to release Odysseus from her island.

    Dec 20, 0799 - Dec 20, 0599

    The Iliad

    Homer brings the gods into The Iliad as well, which tells the story of the mythic Trojan War. Most of the gods of Olympus take sides in the human war: Hera, Athena, and Poseidon are rooting for the Greeks, while Aphrodite, Ares, and Apollo fighting for the Trojans. Hermes plays only a small role in the epic poem, guiding the Trojan king to the body of his dead son, Hector in Book 24.

    Dec 20, 2019

    Oresteia

    The Oresteia is a trilogy of tragic plays (Agamemnon, Libation Bearers, and Eumenides) by the ancient Greek playwright Aeschylus. These plays are about how Orestes and his sister Electra take revenge on their mother for killing their father. As in any good Greek tragedy, the characters call on the gods for help, and Apollo and Athena become pretty involved in the third play. Hermes is also involved because Orestes wants to use trickery to get his revenge, so he calls upon the trickster god to be his ally.

    Dec 20, 2019 - Dec 20, 2019

    The Aeneid

    In the Roman poet Virgil's epic poem, Mercury (a.k.a. Hermes) plays his normal messenger role. Here, he delivers messages between Jupiter (a.k.a. Zeus) and Zeus's mortal son Aeneas. See Book 4 for an example.

    Dec 20, 2019

    The Metamorphoses

    The Roman poet Ovid collected all kinds of wild stories about the gods The Metamorphoses. Here you'll find myths about Mercury, including the story of how he stole Apollo's sacred cattle.

    Dec 20, 2019

    Percy Jackson and the Olympians Series

    Percy Jackson has run-ins with all of the gods of Olympus, including Hermes. We meet Hermes in the first book, The Lightning Thief, and he's pretty friendly, though maybe not the best father. However, as the series progresses, we find out that one of his mortal sons is a villain.

    Dec 20, 2019 - Dec 20, 2019

    God of War

    The Greek gods make it onto the PlayStation in the God of War video game trilogy. The mortal hero of the games, Kratos, butts heads with the gods of Olympus, including Hermes. In God of War III, Hermes is one of the bosses (albeit a speedy one), and Kratos kills him.