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  • gora. Estudos Clssicos em debate

    ISSN: 0874-5498

    [email protected]

    Universidade de Aveiro

    Portugal

    RADULOVI, IFIGENIJA; VUKADINOVI, SNEANA; SMIRNOVBRKI, ALEKSANDRA

    ; Hermes the Transformer

    gora. Estudos Clssicos em debate, nm. 17, 2015, pp. 45-62

    Universidade de Aveiro

    Aveiro, Portugal

    Available in: http://www.redalyc.org/articulo.oa?id=321037735002

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  • gora.EstudosClssicosemDebate17(2015)4562ISSN:08745498

    ;HermestheTransformer

    ;Hermes,oTransformador

    IFIGENIJARADULOVI,SNEANAVUKADINOVI,ALEKSANDRASMIRNOVBRKI1(UniversityofNoviSad,FacultyofPhilosophy,Dep.ofHistorySerbia)

    Abstract:Hermesholdsaspecialplace inGreekreligion.Hisname isrecordedon theMycenaeantablets.MostGreeksourcesconnecthiscultwithAtticaandrelatehisnamewith and its transformation intoHermai.Hermes gotmany epithets,reflectinghisvariousfunctionsandancientorigin.ThepaperdealswithapossibleoriginofHermes,hiscult,describesvariousrolesinGreekreligion,politicalandsymbolicconnotations, (ab)uses of his cult aswell as different representations and finally thetransformation of thedeity in theChristianperiod according towritten andmaterialevidence.

    Keywords:Hermes;cult;chthonian;celestial;representation;transformation.

    OneofthemostbeautifulandprobablybestknownrepresentationofHermesisthesculptureofPraxiteles,whereHermesispresentedasahandsomeyoungbeardlessman.However, throughcenturies themostcommonrepresentations ofHermes became theHermai pillars such asAlcamenesHermes2 and those depicted on many Attic vases. According to ancientwritten sourcesHermai pillars are originalAthenianmonuments and religiouspresentationsduetowhichitwasbelievedthatHermesculthadAtticorigin.HerodotusclaimsthattheAthenianswhotookthisformofrepresentation from thePelasgianshadHermaibeforeallotherGreeks,whileThucydides says thatHermai are of autochthonousAttic origin ( )3.AtticHermaiwereatfirstamorphouspillarsmadeinwoodandlater inmarble4,with thehairyheadofmatureHermeson topof thepillar

    Textreceivedon11/09/2014andacceptedon02/05/2015.1 [email protected]; [email protected];

    [email protected]polisasHermesPropylaios(Paus.,

    1.22.8).TheRomancopiesarefoundinPergamonandEphesus.3Hdt.,2.51.1;Thuc.,6.27.1;cf.Paus.,1.24.3;4.33.3.4Aristot.,Met.1002a22,1017b17.

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    IfigenijaRadulovi,SneanaVukadinovi,AleksandraSmirnovBrki

    gora.EstudosClssicosemDebate17(2015)

    anditsphallusjustabovethebase5.ThisreligiousmonumentstoodinfrontofeveryAthenianhouseandsanctuaryas theprotectorwhoguarded theentrance6.Nonetheless,theirfunctionswerevariousandstillnotclearenough.OntheotherhandPausanias7(8.17.2)maintainsthatsimilarreligiousmonumentexistedinArcadiabutonlyintheformofawoodenpillar.

    Although itwasbelieved thatHermescult isofAtticorigin,due tothenumberofstatuesandtheirprevalenceinAttica,itisstillobscurehowthoseHermaipillarsweredevelopedandwhattheirprimaryfunctionwas.TheLinearBtabletsdenyAtticoriginofthecultsincethenameofHermesis recorded in severalMycenaean tablets.His name iswritten as emaatranscribedinGreekash(classicalGreek,i.e.Atticcontractedform) testifyinghisoldoriginwhichdatesback to theBronzeAge.ThetablesthatbearHermesnamearetheTn316,Un219bothfromPylos,Of31 from Thebes,D 411 fromKnossos.Hermes name is always recordedalongwithfemaledivinities,suchasPotnija,Posidaeja,Diwja,(H)era,Pere82,andIpemedeja.Mostlikelyhiscultwasconnectedtothecultofthosefemaledivinities. It is noteworthy that Hermes was also worshipped in thesanctuariesoffemaledivinitiessuchasHerasatSamos,HecatesaswellasMuses,ApollosinArcadiaandDemetersandDespoinasinMesseniaetc.,buthadnosanctuaryofhisown8.Only three temples9areknown tohavebeenattributedtoHermes,andalloftheminPeloponnesus,andmorespecificallyinArcadia10,wherehiscultwasassociatedwiththemythicalplaceofhisbirth,themountainCyllene.11

    5 Cf. Herm, Attic red figured lecythus ca. 475 BC,Muse du Louvre, Paris,

    cat.TBA.6HARRISON(1903)121.7Paus.,8.17.2.8PALAIMA(1999)452.9According toSMITH (1871)362, theywerenumerous.Pausaniasalsomentions

    another temple ofHermes inElis founded byPelops (5.1.7), but it is believed that itnever really existed. In Lucians satyr, Prometheus complains toHermes that everywheretemplesofgodsandamongstthemofHermesaswellcanbeenseen,buthehasnoneofhisown(Luc.,Promet.14).WeassumethatLucianprobablyusedthetempleofHermesaslicentiapoeticahavinginmindnumerousHermesrepresentations.

    10Lycaon,thesonofPelsagusbuiltthefirsttemple(Hyg.,Fab.225).11Paus.,8.17.1;8.30.6and8.47.4.

  • H;HermestheTransformer47

    gora.EstudosClssicosemDebate17(2015)

    Despite the fact that therewereoldwooden statuesofHermes thatstood inthetemplesoffemaledivinitiesoutsideAttica,suchastheone inArcadia, in the templeofAphrodite,12 theAttic traditionconnectsHermaipillarswiththePeisistratids,i.e.Hipparchosandtheirpolicytowardsruralpopulation. Siebert says that the anthropomorphic presentation of thepillars originates from the BronzeAge and that the so calledHipparchosHermhasitsancientrusticancestors13.Inancientsources14itissaidthatthestoneHermaiwere firstlysetupby rural roads inorder todetermine thedirection anddistanceof theAtticvillages, i.e. thehalfwaybetween therural deme and Athens. These ancient claims are corroborated byarcheologicalevidence,suchasthesocalledFourmontHermaifromthelate6thcenturyBCfoundnearKoropoiwhereitiswrittenthatitstandshalfwayfromAthenstothevillageCephale15.Fromthesameperiod,around520BCis the earliest depiction ofHermai on vases16. The role attributed to thetyrant Hipparchus must have been in canonizing the old traditionalwooden forms ofHermes, that could easily be damaged, and replacingthemwith the firmer ones, in stone or bronze, in order to confirm theposition of his power by giving privileges to the rural population inaccordancewiththegeneralpoliciesofthePeisistratids17.

    ItisworthmentioningtheinterpretationgiveninthePseudoPlatonicdialogueHipparchoswhere stoneHermai had and educative ()purpose carrying on their body written verses in the form of Delphicmaxims18.It ispossiblethatthestatueofHermesHermawasdevelopedandevolvedfromthesocalled,whichalsostoodasasignontheroads.wasbuiltbypassengersandtravelersadding

    12Paus.,8.31.6.13SIEBERT(1990)375.14 Ps.PlatoHipparch. 228d229b, inHarpocration and Suidas s.v. , and

    Hesychios.s.v..15Cf.SEGX,IG837.16ThevasesarepresentedinZANKER(1965)30,91103.17UniformlytheyconstitutedthePanathenaicfestivals,therhapsodescontestsas

    well as theGreatDionysiawhich became themain festivals in democracy.Cf.KOLB(1977)99138.

    18QUINN(2007)945.

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    gora.EstudosClssicosemDebate17(2015)

    stones,andconsequentlyduringtheClassicalperiodHermeswasrelatedtotravelers and sailors and became their patron deity19. The vase representationsalsoshowthefaceofHermesonthetopoftheserockyhillsandBabrius20confirmstheexistenceofsuchrockypile().SinceboththeetymologyofHermesnameandthisspecificmonumentareunclear, Siebert claims thatHermai pillars do not originate from 21. In Odyssey22, Pausanias23 and Polyaenus24 Herma is a boundarystone/slab that marks the boundary between two estates25. The erectedphallusspeaksofHermesasofaruralcultrelatedtothesoilfertilityrituals.Furthermore hismost ancient presentation from Cyllene26, as an erectedwoodenphallus,assertthisHermesfunction,aswellastheaforementionedcommonplaceofhisworship,togetherwithDemeterandPersephone.

    Hermes ismost likelypreHellenicdeity27and isprobablychthonianasHecate,DemeterandPersephonewithwhomhesharessanctuariesandwhoareallprimarychthoniandeities28.ThemythicalstoryofHermeswhoresolvesthefightbetweentwosnakes,whichareconsideredtypicalchthonianattributesandoneofHermesaswell29,corroborateshischthoniancharacteristics30.Hischthonianpropertiesareevident intherolethatheplaysasthemediatorbetweentheUpperandtheUnderworldandinhisepithets

    19BURKERT(1977)243.20Babr.,Fab.48.12. 21SIEBERT(1990)381;cf.FURLEY(1996)27.22Hom.,Od.16.471.23Paus.,3.10.6;8.34.6;8.35.23.24Polyaen.,6.24.25PALAIMA(1999)loc.cit,characterizesHermesasthegodofboundarieswhohas

    notempleofhisown.26...,

    ...(Paus.,8.17.2). 27 Herodotus claims that the Athenians took the form of Hermai from the

    Pelasgians(2.51.1).Cf.alson.10above.28Cf.RADULOVIDRAGANI,VUKADINOVI(2013)167192.29TheBabyloniandeityNingishzidawho isalsoagodmediatorof thehuman

    and the divine, especially the female deity Ishtar, has snakes as his attribute.Cf.FROTHINGHAM(1916)175211.

    30Hyg.,Astr.2.7.

  • H;HermestheTransformer49

    gora.EstudosClssicosemDebate17(2015)

    asPsychopompos, the transporter of the soulsof thedead: (cf. 31 and )32. His chthonian characteristics arealso underlined by Eitrem33, who says that Hermai were usual funeralmonumentsinthetimeofSolon,accordingtoCicerosstatementthatSolonhadforbidden luxuriousfuneralsbysettingupHermaiongraves34.HermaiorHermeswere usually depicted near tombs or deceased ones onAtticlecythiwhichweregenerallyrelatedtofuneralrites.35

    Consequently,Hermes roleasachthoniandivinityhad tobe resolvedunderthenewculturalandhistoricalcircumstancesthatoccurredwitht