Hermes the Thief: The Evolution of a Myth

Hermes the Thief: The Evolution of a Myth

Hermes the Thief: The Evolution of a Myth

Hermes the Thief: The Evolution of a Myth

Excerpt

This study of the Greek god Hermes explores the hypothesis that the interrelation of Greek mythology and Greek history is much closer than has generally been recognized. Such a hypothesis seems almost inescapable in the face of the radical transformation that the attributes and personality of Hermes underwent during the archaic period of Greek history. What I have sought to do here is to correlate these changes with the revolution in economic techniques, social organization, and modes of thought that took place in Athens between the Homeric age and the fifth century B. C. Such a correlation, I submit, casts new light on the mythology of Hermes, and especially on the Homeric Hymn to Hermes.

The study was conceived six years ago in the genial atmosphere of the University of Wisconsin. The ideas in it have benefited from the stimulus of association with members of its faculty, especially Professors A. D. Winspear, Walter R. Agard, Charles F. Edson, Howard Becker, and the late William Ellery Leonard. Their exposition has benefited--to an extent which only those who know her work will appreciate-- from the searching criticism and constructive assistance of Miss Livia Appel, managing editor of the University of Wisconsin Press. I am also indebted for advice and criticism to the late Professor W. A. Oldfather of the University of Illinois and Professors Arthur D. Nock and Sterling Dow of Harvard University . . .

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