Hermes (play /ˈhɜrmiːz/; Greek Ἑρμῆς) An Olympian god in Greek religion and mythology, Hermes was the son of Zeus and the Pleiade, Maia, a daughter of the Titan, Atlas. The second youngest of the Olympian gods, he was born before Dionysus.
His symbols include the rooster and the tortoise, his purse or pouch, winged sandals, winged cap, and held in his left hand, the herald's staff, the Greek kerykeion or Latin caduceus.
Hermes was the herald, or messenger, of the gods to humans, sharing this role with Iris. A patron of boundaries and the travelers who cross them, he was the protector of shepherds and cowherds, thieves, orators and wit, literature and poets, athletics and sports, weights and measures, invention, and of commerce in general.
In the Roman adaptation of the Greek pantheon (see interpretatio romana), Hermes was identified with the Roman god Mercury, who, though inherited from the Etruscans, developed many similar characteristics, such as being the patron of commerce.
The origin of Hermes as a deity is uncertain. Some consider him a native god that was worshiped since the Neolithic era, while others suggests that he was an Asian import, perhaps via Cyprus or Cilicia well before the beginning of written records in Greece. What is certain is that his cult was established in Greece in remote regions, likely making him a god of nature, farmers and shepherds. It is also possible that since the beginning he has been a deity with shamanic attributes linked to divination, reconciliation, magic, sacrifices, and initiation and contact with other planes of existence, a role of mediator between the worlds of the visible and invisible.
Among the functions most commonly linked to him in Greek literature are messenger of the gods, and god of language, speech, metaphors, prudence and circumspection, as well as intrigues and covert reasons, fraud and perjury, wit and ambiguity. Thus he was a patron of speakers, heralds, ambassadors and diplomats, messengers and thieves. He was believed to have invented fire, the lyre, the syrinx, the alphabet, numbers, astronomy, a special form of music, the fighting arts and the gym, the cultivation of olive trees, weights and measures, and various other things.
Due to his constant mobility, he was considered the god of commerce and social intercourse, the wealth brought in business, especially sudden or unexpected enrichment, travel, roads and crossroads, borders and boundary conditions or transient, the changes from the threshold, agreements and contracts, friendship, hospitality, sexual intercourse, games, data, the draw, good luck, the sacrifices and the sacrificial animals, flocks and shepherds and the fertility of land and cattle. In addition to serving as messenger to Zeus, Hermes carried the souls of the dead to Hades, and directed the dreams sent by Zeus to mortals.
The Homeric hymn to Hermes invokes him as the one "of many shifts (polytropos), blandly cunning, a robber, a cattle driver, a bringer of dreams, a watcher by night, a thief at the gates, one who was soon to show forth wonderful deeds among the deathless gods."
As the god of roads he protected travelers that sacrificed to him or crossed his path, and punished those who refused to aid those that lost their way; numerous statues of him were erected on roads, doors and gates. Hermes also served as a psychopomp, or an escort for the dead to help them find their way to the Underworld, and in this capacity was the only god besides Hades, Persephone, Hecate, and Thanatos who could enter and leave the Underworld without hindrance.
Hermes, as an inventor of fire,is a parallel of the Titan, Prometheus. In addition to the lyre, Hermes was believed to have invented many types of racing and the sports of wrestling and boxing, and therefore was a patron of athletes.
According to prominent folklorist Yeleazar Meletinsky, Hermes is a deified trickster