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.