What Was Hermes Role in the Odyssey?

The Odyssey is one of the most celebrated epic poems in human history, and it has been analyzed, deconstructed, and studied by scholars for centuries. One of the characters that stands out in this story is Hermes, the messenger of the gods. In this article, we will dive into Hermes’ role in the Odyssey and how he influenced the story’s plot.

The Role of Hermes in the Odyssey

Hermes is one of the twelve Olympian gods and goddesses in Greek mythology. He is known as the messenger of the gods and is often depicted wearing a winged helmet and sandals. In Greek mythology, he was known for his speed, cunningness, and his ability to move between different worlds.

In the Odyssey, Hermes plays a crucial role as he serves as a guide and mentor to Odysseus throughout his journey back home. At various points in the story, Hermes appears to Odysseus to offer advice or assistance.

Hermes’ First Appearance

Hermes’ first appearance in the Odyssey comes in Book 5 when he visits Calypso’s island to ask her to release Odysseus. Calypso had been holding Odysseus captive on her island for seven years after he washed up on her shores following a shipwreck.

Hermes convinces Calypso to let Odysseus go by reminding her that it was not right for her to keep him against his will. He also warns her that if she doesn’t release him, Zeus will punish her severely.

“But send him on his way – or Zeus may be angry with you.” (Book 5, line 135)

With Hermes’ intervention, Calypso releases Odysseus and provides him with materials to build a raft so that he can continue his journey home.

Hermes’ Second Appearance

Hermes appears again in Book 10 when he visits Aeolus, the god of winds. Odysseus and his crew had been given a bag of winds by Aeolus to help them on their journey, but after Odysseus’ men open the bag, the winds escape and blow them back to Aeolus’ island.

Hermes reminds Aeolus that it is not his place to interfere with the affairs of gods and mortals.

“Aeolus, you should not have helped this man or given him passage; it is not right for us Olympian gods to meddle in human quarrels.” (Book 10, line 33)

With Hermes’ intervention, Odysseus and his crew are able to leave Aeolus’ island once again.

Hermes’ Third Appearance

Hermes appears for the third time in Book 24 when he guides the souls of the suitors who were killed by Odysseus back to Hades. Hermes is seen as a guide for the dead and is often depicted leading them into the underworld.

“Souls of wretched mortals! You that with your own hands have touched violence and wrong, why have you come down here into this darkness?” (Book 24, line 5)

With Hermes’ guidance, the souls are able to find their way back to Hades where they belong.


Hermes plays a crucial role in the Odyssey as he serves as a guide and mentor for Odysseus throughout his journey home. He offers advice and assistance at various points in the story and ensures that Odysseus stays on track. With his speed, cunningness, and ability to move between different worlds, Hermes proves himself to be an essential character in this epic poem.