Tuesday, March 14, 2006

As we have seen Hermes, on his first day, on his birthday, demonstrated that he was a sly thief, when he stole Apollo’s cattle.

However, his theft is a means to an end, as he tells his mother: “No! I’m going to discover an art-the best there is-and so I’ll be able to feed myself and you forever.”

Once he steals the cattle, he cuts two out of the herd of fifty and sacrifices them to the twelve gods. Hermes is hungry and his mouth waters for the flesh of the cows but he takes not one bite. He honors the gods with his sacrifice.

Hermes does not steal the cows because he is hungry. His thievery, as he tells his mother, has a greater purpose: “We’re not going to stay here as you insist, the only two among the immortal gods without any gifts or any prayers.”

On the first day of his birth, Hermes invents the lyre, fire and fire sticks, sacrifices to the gods, challenges his brother Apollo, and takes charge of his as well as his mother’s life.

Hermes reminds me of a young immigrant who comes to America, looks around and decides that he is going to make a way for himself in this brave new world. He is full of bravado, intelligence and guts. However, as he progresses he sacrifices to the gods, he takes nothing for himself but he brings luck to those around him.

His energy and strength, plus his intelligence and drive bring a positive energy to those things he touches. He casts off sparks as he moves through the world and he impresses Zeus, his father, with his denials and subterfuge. However, the wily and intelligent Apollo, who is determined to have the truth from his younger brother, catches him.

Hermes escapes only when he plays music on the lyre. Through his art he is redeemed.

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