Hermes, a god of Greek mythology, corresponding to the Roman Mercury, was the son of Zeus and Maia, the daughter of Atlas, and was born in Arcadia. Wondrous stories are told of his infancy. At the age of eight hours he is said to have invented the lyre, which he hid in his cradle, and soon after stole fifty of the gods' oxen guarded by Apollo, driving them backwards to blind the trail, and having slain two by the river Alpheus he ma.de a fire, sacrificed a portion of them, and hid what he did not eat in a cavern. Apollo suspected him of the theft and went to Maia, but Hermes pretended to sleep in his cradle. Zeus made him acknowledge the theft, but when Apollo bound his hands, the chains fell off, and the oxen appeared two by two. Hermes afterwards charmed Apollo by his playing, and the two made a compact of comradeship. Hermes became the herald and messenger of the gods, and countless stories are told of his cunning tricks. He was also the god of eloquence, and the patron of inventors, and of roads and travellers. Our own milestone finds its origin in the statues of Hermes, known as Hermee, which were placed on the roads to mark distances. Hermes is generally represented as slender and full of youthful grace, with winged cap and ankles, and carrying the caduceus
(q.v.). But be has many symbols for his different characters. His festival was called Hermeea.