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Hermes the Thief
Hermes -- trickster and culture hero, divine child and patron of steady action, master of magic words, seducer and whisper -- is a vital and complex figure in Greek mythology. Who is this tricky shapechanger? A classic, prescient work dealing with myth and cult which traces the evolution of Hermes from sacred stoneheap and phallus to Homeric Hymn to Hermes and the Hesiodic...more
Paperback, 164 pages
Published March 1st 1990 by Lindisfarne Books
(first published November 1969)
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Brown reconstructs the archaic history of the myth of the Greek god Hermes and analyzes how the myth changed in its Homeric, Hesiodic, and later representations. As he traces it from its purported beginning in tribal thought through the art and literature of Classical Greece, Brown challenges the view of much traditional scholarship that The Homeric Hymn to Hermes represents one of the oldest versions of the myth. The book is well researched, and in addition to philological and literary critica...more
Great information on the evolution of Hermes as a mythological character in the beginning of the book, but the latter part dealing with the dating of the Homeric hymn to Hermes-albeit important and well-researched- tends to drag. This book has some great footnotes too, but with a good deal of them in untranslated Greek and German. I found this the most frustrating aspect of the book. Overall, a great read, but a bit of a scramble in the latter half for a casual reader.
This was a really interesting read. The guy traces the evolution of Hermes as a god from village mage to Zeus's Herald, and makes a convincing argument for the Homeric Hymn to Hermes being from an Athenian poet who was parodying Hesiod and Homer. Also introduces me to a few protomyths for Hermes and Pandora I was unaware of, making me really grateful I picked this one up.
read one summer while leaning against a tree in the parking lot of a grocery store where i made bread. seems appropriate. the story of the hymn to hermes is just so out that it deserved a brilliant if complex analysis. honestly, who else but hermes would have demanded credit for inventing a way to walk with brush tied to your feet?
Norman Oliver Brown was an American classicist who is known for his translation and commentaries on the works of Hesiod. A student of Carl Schorske and Isaiah Berlin, he taught classics at Wesleyan University, University of Rochester, and UC-Santa Cruz.More about Norman O. Brown...