Hermes, by the famous sculptor Praxiteles. At Olympia.


Hermes was the son of Zeus and Maia. He was born  on the fourth day of the month, which became sacred to him. The Roman name for Hermes is Mercury, hence the French for Wednesday - Mercredi (and the Spanish, Miercoles).

Messenger of the Gods

Hermes was god of many things. Most famously he was the messenger of the gods, taking messages especially from Zeus. He could fly at great speeds by means of his magic winged sandals, which can be seen in the pictures on the right. He also carried a special golden staff which can be seen in the lower pictures. Hermes also led the souls of the dead to the underworld.

God of Cunning

Hermes was a very clever god, the god of cunning and shrewdness, and therefore of thieves and merchants.


Hermes was also the inventor of two musical instruments - the kithara, or lyre, and the syrinx, or reed-pipe.The strings of the lyre were made with the intestines of Apollo's cattle. Zeus made Hermes give Apollo the lyre to pay him back, and so the lyre became a symbol of Apollo.

Other facts

Hermes was the god of shepherds and is sometimes shown carrying a ram.

Hermes also looked after Dionysos when he was a baby, as you can see in the statue top left.