Hermes: messenger of the gods

Hermes was the god of travel, trade, boundaries, shepherds, thieves, and was the messenger of the gods. He was the son of Zeus and Maia, one of the daughters of Atlas. When he was still a baby, Hermes stole Apollo’s cattle and invented the lyre, which Apollo took in return for the cattle.

Hermes travels between the world of humans and the homes of the gods, both Olympus and the underworld. Other than Dionysos, he is the only god who travels freely to the underworld, and he guides human souls to Hades after death.

Hermes is depicted wearing a traveller’s hat (sometimes with wings on his head) and winged sandals. He carries a wand entwined with two snakes, called a caduceus, with which it is said he can make men fall asleep and wake up.


  • Messenger of the gods: Hermes communicates between the world of the gods and the human realm, often delivering messages for Zeus to human heroes.
  • Travellers: Hermes is often on the move in his role as messenger.
  • Thieves: Hermes stole the cattle of Apollo when still a baby, and so came to be the patron god of thieves.
  • Trade: as this involves travelling, often long distances, Hermes is the ideal patron god.
  • Shepherds: this responsibility also derives from the time Hermes stole Apollo’s animals.

Hermes iconography

Traveller’s hat, winged sandals, caduceus.