Homeric Hymn to Hermes
Some Study Questions

Outline of the Hymn / Some Images of the God

  1. What are the circumstances of Hermesí conception and birth? Where is he born and how is he conceived? How is the child described? How do these circumstances suit Hermesí divine identity? (1-19)
  2. What is the first thing that Hermes does after his birth? What does this tell you about the god? (20-56)
  3. What is the subject of Hermesí song in lines (57-61)? Why do you think he sings this?
  4. What reason is suggestion for Hermesí departure in search of his brotherís cattle? What other reasons might there be? (64-70)
  5. What does the method Hermes uses to steal the cattle suggest about his personality?
  6. How does Hermesí sacrifice compare to that established by Prometheus? Why does Hermes not eat the meat? (105-141)
  7. What tricks does Hermes use in his return from stealing the cattle? What does this add to the picture of his divine personality? (138-154)
  8. How does Maia act towards her son after his return? Why? What does she call him and why? (155-161)
  9. How does Hermes respond to his mother? What does he promise? (163-182)
  10. Why is there a rivalry between Apollo and Hermes? What is your reaction to the idea of a rivalry such as this between gods? Would the God you know be capable of such a rivalry?
  11. Describe Hermesí behavior when Apollo arrives at the cave? What does this add to the picture of Hermes as a god? (235-245)
  12. What reasons does Hermes give Apollo to argue that he could not have stolen the cattle? (261-277)
  13. What is Apolloís reaction to Hermesí arguments? (282-292)
  14. Describe the impressions made by Apollo, Hermes, and Zeus in the mediation scene (327-394)
  15. How does Apollo propose to resolve his conflict with brother Hermes? (435-462)
  16. What gifts and prerogatives does Apollo give Hermes in his final speech? (527-573)

This material has been placed on the web by Prof. Tom Sienkewicz of Monmouth College, Monmouth, Illinois for the benefit of his students in ISSI402 Classical Mythology and Religion. If you have any questions, you can contact him at toms@monm.edu.

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