What is a well-known story about the Greek god Hermes (aka Mercury to the Romans)? It cannot be about the time when he was a baby and he stole Apollo's sheep.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

I have always liked  the story of Baucis and Philemon.  Hermes and Zeus are disguised as visitors and go to different mortals' homes to ask for food and shelter.  They are shunned by the mortals', who do not recognize the King of the Gods and the Messenger of the Gods.  Instead, a kindly old couple named Baucis and Philemon, themselves very poor, end up gleefully taking in the two guests.  Not knowing that these are Olympians, the elderly couple take excellent care of the guests and offer them all that they have in both food and shelter.  The elderly man and woman are startled when the true identity of the Gods is revealed.  They are also rightfully scared when both of the Olympians flood the earth to punish those who did not care for them as wanderers.  Both Baucis and Philemon are granted a wish and are spared from the flood.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Hermes appears several times in the Odyssey, most notably to plead for Odysseus' release from Calypso.  He also played a role in the creation of Pandora, as Zeus allowed him to bestow upon her the qualities of guile and deceiptfulness and then was actually tasked to deliver the gift to Epimethius.

He raced against Apollo (and apparently lost) and played a role in any number of stories involving just the gods on Mt. Olympus as well as the interactions between gods and humans at other times.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The great Greek messenger god (known to the Romans as Mercury), Hermes served as the guide to the Underworld, best remembered for his cunning and winged sandals.

One story relates his killing of Argus Panoptes, a 100-eyed giant. Argus' responsibility was to watch over the nymph Io, a subject of Queen Hera. Hermes cast a spell over the giant which put him to sleep and closed all of his eyes. Once done, Hermes killed the giant and then put his eyes into the tail of a peacock.


Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial