ABSTRACT

Hermes is a fascinating god that seems to deny succinct definition. It is possible to identify many if not most of his activities, but to name him 'the god of X' is to leave out far too many other roles that he plays within his Olympian family and ancient Greek society. Like the Greeks, the Romans saw the need to venerate this god and adopted him into their divine pantheon under the name Mercury; however, for the Romans, who reduced his activities to a more manageable level, he was a far less versatile god. Despite the continuing appeal of Hermes, unlike some of his Olympian siblings, such as Dionysos and Athena who have generated a great deal of interest in recent years, Hermes has been relatively neglected. There has not been a book-length study of him produced in English since Brown's (1947, reprinted in 1969) Hermes the Thief, but that study is focused solely on the ancient Greek god.