The Gods of Greek and Roman Mythology - Hermes (Mercury)

Role in the Mythos: God of Commerce and the Market


  • Divine Herald for Zeus
  • Patron of Merchants, Shepherds, and Thieves
  • Protector of Herds and Flocks
  • Solemn Guide of the Dead

Notable Relations: 

  • Parents: Zeus and Maia (Atlas’s daughter)  
  • Spouse: None    


  • Winged sandals
  • Low-crowned hat
  • Magic wand
  • Ram
  • Hawk
  • Strawberry-tree


  • Graceful, swift, athletic
  • Shrewd, cunning, smarter than all the other gods
  • Master of language, writing, astronomy, astrology, and thievery

Myths to Know:

Becoming an Olympian

As an infant, Hermes sneaks out of his crib, steals Apollo’s herds, and creates a lyre out of a tortoise shell before anyone knows that he is gone. He plays innocent when he returns to the crib. When Apollo figures out what Hermes has done, he complains to Zeus, who finds these antics entertaining. Hermes gives Apollo the lyre he invented as a token of apology. Zeus is so amused that he grants Hermes a place among the Olympians. 

Trickery of Argus

After Hera captures Io, she gives her to Argus for safekeeping. Argus is a hundred-eyed giant who remains awake at all times; when some of his eyes are asleep, the others are trained on Io. Zeus enlists Hermes to steal Io away from Argus, a seemingly impossible task. Clever Hermes disguises himself as a shepherd and goes to Argus. Using song, a shepherd’s pipe, and boring, long-winded stories, Hermes lulls all of Argus’s eyes to sleep. In some versions of the story, Hermes then kills Argus with a stone, and Hera, in her grief, sets the eyes of her beloved giant into the tail of a peacock. Regardless of Argus’s fate at Hermes’s hands, Io is free to roam the earth again.