Hermes, god of travelers and messengers: His role in communication and his laughter

Greek mythology, imbued with epic tales and fascinating divine characters, has sculpted the foundations of many cultures and continues to captivate the imagination. Within this rich tapestry, Hermes stands out as the god of travelers, messengers and facilitators of communication, wielding his influence with dynamism and playfulness. In this article, we explore the origins of Hermes, his key role in Greek mythology and how his legacy lives on in modern art and communication.

Hermes: Origin and attributes

Birth and family of Hermes

Son of Zeus, ruler of the gods, and Maia, one of the Pleiades, Hermes was born in a cave on Mount Cyllene in Arcadia. His birth is marked by tales of mischief and cunning, traits that foreshadowed his divine nature.

Attributes and symbols associated with Hermes

Hermes is easily recognized by his distinctive symbols:

  • The caduceus, his sinuous staff surmounted by two wings and encircled by two serpents
  • The winged sandals, which enable him to travel with speed
  • The petasus, a traveler's hat often seen on his representations

Hermes, a god of many functions

In addition to being the god of travelers and messengers, Hermes also plays the role of psychopomp, guiding the souls of the deceased to the underworld. He is also the patron saint of merchants, orators, thieves and liars, thus displaying a most varied portfolio of divinities.

Hermes, protector of travelers and messengers

Hermes' role as guide to travelers

Hermes ensures the safety of travelers and protects them during their journeys. The ancient Greeks would pray to him before embarking on a journey to ensure their protection.

Famous mythical stories involving Hermes the messenger

Many myths feature Hermes as a messenger, such as when he intervenes to persuade Hades to free Persephone or to communicate Zeus' orders to other gods or mortals.

The importance of the caduceus and winged sandals

The caduceus and winged sandals are not mere accessories; they are emblematic of Hermes' swift, connective nature. They are tools that symbolize his ability to cross worlds and link the gods to man.

Hermes in divine and mortal communication

Hermes' function as messenger of the gods

As voice of Olympus, Hermes disseminates divine decrees, navigating between realms with supernatural ease.

Hermes' impact on human communication and trade

Hermes' influence extends beyond myth, with his essence found in communication and trade practices. His attributes offer a metaphor for the speed and efficiency of human exchanges.

Rituals and offerings to promote communication

In ancient times, ritual practices such as sacrifices and offerings were addressed to Hermes to promote clarity and efficiency in communication.

Hermes' laughing nature

Hermes' mischievous personality

From birth, Hermes' penchant for mischief manifested itself, which mapped out his divine course of facetiousness and cunning.

Myths illustrating his facetiousness

Tales of his interactions with other gods and mortals often evoke his cunning nature, such as the theft of Apollo's sacred oxen, which he stole on his first day of existence.

The duality between his serious role and his playful nature

Despite his crucial role in the Greek pantheon, Hermes never lost his propensity for play and deception, which makes his character exceptionally human and endearing.

Hermes in art and culture

Representations of Hermes in ancient art

The iconography of Hermes is rich and varied, from classical Greek sculptures to frescoes, he is often depicted with his signature attributes in various narrative postures.

Throughout history, the image of Hermes has evolved, undergoing transformations according to cultural perceptions and artistic eras.

In modern culture, Hermès is often embodied as a symbol of fast and effective communication; its figure is adopted in logos and brands, sometimes becoming a vector for creative marketing.


Summary of Hermes' importance in Greek mythology

Hermes is a central figure not only because of his role as messenger, but also for his emblematic character in the Greek pantheon as protector of travelers and ambassador of communication.

His legacy in modern communication and travel practices

The spirit of Hermes still resonates in our advanced means of communication and in the ease with which we transcend distances, symbolically wearing winged sandals.

Reflections on the persistence of his cult today

The ever-relevant figure of Hermes is a reminder that deities can subsist far beyond their original mythologies, surviving in language, art and contemporary culture.


To deepen your knowledge of the god Hermes and his influence in various spheres of life, the following references are recommended:

  • "Hermès : Le dieu aux mille dons" - Jean-Pierre Vernant
  • "Les mythes grecs" - Robert Graves
  • "Hermès et la communication dans le monde grec" - Philippe Paderni
  • "Hermès dévoilé : décyptage d'une enquête en iconographie antique" - Françoise Létoublon