Hermes – A link between different realms?

So-called “Logios Hermes” (Hermes,Orator). Mar...
So-called “Logios Hermes” (Hermes,Orator). Marble, Roman copy from the late 1st century CE-early 2nd century CE after a Greek original of the 5th century BC via Wikipedia

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 is depicted as a mature messenger of the gods and conductor of souls to the afterlife realm of Hades. Hermes, in fact, has many functions within the total body of classical mythology.

In the Homeric Hymn to Hermes, he’s described as the protector of travelers, harlots, old women, thieves, and foot runners. The Homeric hymns follow the same form and pattern as Homer’s work so ancient scholars assumed they were authored by Homer. But contemporary scholars question not only their authorship but also the origin of works attributed to Homer.

Scholars are also unsure about Hermes’ origin. His cult appears in the remote regions of Greece where he is largely regarded as a nature god, assisting the simple farmers and shepherds dotting the countryside. But where he came from remains a mystery. Some say Hermes 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, refashioned 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 be traced back to Hermes, the messenger who roamed among different realms and, as such, rarely sat still.

Carl Jung was particularly interested in Hermes, seeing him as a symbolic and sometimes surprising link – as a trickster – among various aspects of the conscious and unconscious self. As an agent of creativity and transformation, Jungians say Hermes compels us to make the unconscious conscious.

I mention Carl Jung a lot within the context of classical mythology, and rightly so. Jung made an extensive study of world myth, fitting the different characters and stories within his overall theory not unlike a 3D jigsaw puzzle of the human self. Some see this as weak, others strong. But one thing is for sure. Jung’s popularity and relevance continue to grow. Some sixty years after his death stories about Jung regularly turn up in my RSS reader.

Will the same be said of those cynical religious studies ‘specialists’ who diss Jung while spending their lives fussing over the minutiae of some obscure ancient topic?

Related » Gemini


One thought on “Hermes – A link between different realms?

  1. Edit – corrected sentence to now read

    “…among various aspects of the conscious and unconscious self.”

    12:23 – added link to because that page jogged my memory of the fairly stock phrase “creativity and transformation” which, although common, does help to describe Jung’s general outlook.
    3:49 – minor tweak >> “God” to “god”
    5:06 – “complicated” to “3D”

    Liked by 1 person

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