chapter
18 Pages

Citizens and Foreigners

WithVictor Ehrenberg

Hermes was the god of trade. In comedy he is called Empolaios, ‘engaged in traffic and commerce’, and Agoraios, ‘belonging to the market’. 1 He was, above all, the god of small tradesmen and hucksters, and so is derided as a ‘re-retailer’. 2 As Dolios and Strophaios a deceitful and shifty god, he was the patron of all dubious methods of business. 3 He was, however, more than the god of trade. We shall not take into account all his functions, important as they were: some of them are also mentioned in comedy; he is the god of herds and flocks, the doorkeeper, the god who shows the way, or the god of games. 4 The part, however, which he plays in the Peace is of immediate relevance to our questions. The god from whom the chorus asks help is a god of peace, humane and bountiful, and when directing ‘like a good craftsman’ the work of excavating the goddess of Peace, he is thought of as the god of craftsmanship. 5 The unity of the two sides of business life, which we have discussed in the preceding chapter, is personified in Hermes.