Why Is Hermes Name Hermes?

Have you ever wondered why the Greek god Hermes is named as such? Let’s delve into the origins of this intriguing name.

Who is Hermes?

First, let’s briefly introduce who Hermes is. In Greek mythology, Hermes is known as the messenger of the gods and the patron of travelers, merchants, and thieves. He is often depicted wearing a winged hat and sandals, carrying a caduceus (a staff with two snakes entwined) in his hand.

The Origins of the Name Hermes

The name “Hermes” has its roots in ancient Greek language. It comes from the word “herma,” which refers to a stone pillar or boundary marker that was believed to have been blessed by Hermes himself. These pillars were often placed at crossroads or outside houses as a symbol of protection.

Another theory about the origin of Hermes’ name comes from an ancient Greek word “hermaion,” which means “heap of stones.” This word referred to cairns or stacks of stones that were used as markers for graves or paths.

Hermes and Homeric Hymns

In addition to these linguistic theories, there are also literary sources that shed light on why Hermes was named as such. The Homeric Hymns, a collection of ancient Greek poems dedicated to various gods and goddesses, offer some clues.

In one hymn, Hermes is described as being born in a cave on Mount Cyllene. He immediately began displaying his mischievous nature by stealing some cattle from his half-brother Apollo.

When Apollo discovered what had happened, he demanded that Hermes return his cattle. In exchange for their safe return, Apollo gave Hermes his golden wand, which became the famous caduceus.

This story offers some insight into why Hermes might have been given his name. As a trickster god who was always on the move, Hermes was associated with boundaries and markers. The herma, or stone pillar, was a symbol of these boundaries and would have been an appropriate object for him to bless and protect.

The Symbolism of Hermes

Overall, the name “Hermes” is associated with boundaries, transitions, and movement. As a messenger god who traveled freely between the mortal world and the realm of the gods, Hermes embodied these qualities. His name reflects his role as a protector of travelers and merchants, as well as his association with crossroads and boundary markers.


In conclusion, while there may not be a clear-cut answer to why Hermes is named as such, there are several theories that shed light on this fascinating topic. Whether you believe that his name comes from the herma or from his mischievous nature as a trickster god, one thing is clear: Hermes’ name is rich in symbolism and meaning.