Collection Of Hesiod
(ll. 1 29) Muse, sing of Hermes, the son of Zeus and Maia, lord of Cyllene and Arcadia rich in flocks, the luck bringing messenger of the immortals whom Maia bare, the rich tressed nymph, when she was joined in love with Zeus, a shy goddess, for she avoided the company of the blessed gods, and lived within a deep, shady cave. There the son of Cronos used to lie with the rich tressed nymph, unseen by deathless gods and mortal men, at dead of night while sweet sleep should hold white armed Hera fast. And when the purpose of great Zeus was fixed in heaven, she was delivered and a notable thing was come to pass. For then she bare a son, of many shifts, blandly cunning, a robber, a cattle driver, a bringer of dreams, a watcher by night, a thief at the gates, one who was soon to show forth wonderful deeds among the deathless gods. Born with the dawning, at mid day he played on the lyre, and in the evening he stole the cattle of far shooting Apollo on the fourth day of the month; for on that day queenly Maia bare him. So soon as he had leaped from his mother’s heavenly womb, he lay not long waiting in his holy cradle, but he sprang up and sought the oxen of Apollo. But as he stepped over the threshold of the high roofed cave, he found a tortoise there and gained endless delight. For it was Hermes who first made the tortoise a singer. The creature fell in his way at the courtyard gate, where it was feeding on the rich grass before the dwelling, waddling along. When be saw it, the luck bringing son of Zeus laughed and said:
(ll. 30 38) An omen of great luck for me so soon! I do not slight it. Hail, comrade of the feast, lovely in shape, sounding at the dance! With joy I meet you! Where got you that rich gaud for covering, that spangled shell a tortoise living in the mountains? But I will take and carry you within: you shall help me and I will do you no disgrace, though first of all you must profit me. It is better to be at home: harm may come out of doors. Living, you shall be a spell against mischievous witchcraft (13); but if you die, then you shall make sweetest song.
(ll. 39 61) Thus speaking, he took up the tortoise in both hands and went back into the house carrying his charming toy. Then he cut off its limbs and scooped out the marrow of the mountain tortoise with a scoop of grey iron. As a swift thought darts through the heart of a man when thronging cares haunt him, or as bright glances flash from the eye, so glorious Hermes planned both thought and deed at once. He cut stalks of reed to measure and fixed them, fastening their ends across the back and through the shell of the tortoise, and then stretched ox hide all over it by his skill. Also he put in the horns and fitted a cross piece upon the two of them, and stretched seven strings of sheep gut. But when he had made it he proved each string in turn with the key, as he held the lovely thing. At the touch of his hand it sounded marvellously; and, as he tried it, the god sang sweet random snatches, even as youths bandy taunts at festivals. He sang of Zeus the son of Cronos and neat shod Maia, the converse which they had before in the comradeship of love, telling all the glorious tale of his own begetting. He celebrated, too, the handmaids of the nymph, and her bright home, and the tripods all about the house, and the abundant cauldrons.
(ll. 62 67) But while he was singing of all these, his heart was bent on other matters. And he took the hollow lyre and laid it in his sacred cradle, and sprang from the sweet smelling hall to a watch place, pondering sheet trickery in his heart deeds such as knavish folk pursue in the dark hermes replica with stamp
night time; for he longed to taste flesh.
(ll. 68 86) The Sun was going down beneath the earth towards Ocean with his horses and chariot when Hermes came hurrying to the shadowy mountains of Pieria, where the divine cattle of the blessed gods had their steads and grazed the pleasant, unmown meadows. Of these the Son of Maia, the sharp eyed slayer of Argus then cut off from the herd fifty loud lowing kine, and drove them straggling wise across a sandy place, turning their hoof prints aside. Also, he bethought him of a crafty ruse and reversed the marks of their hoofs, making the front behind and the hind before, while he himself walked the other way (14). Then he wove sandals with wicker work by the sand of the sea, wonderful things, unthought of, unimagined; for he mixed together tamarisk and myrtle twigs, fastening together an armful of their fresh, young wood, and tied them, leaves and all securely under his feet as light sandals. The brushwood the glorious Slayer of Argus plucked in Pieria as he was preparing for his journey, making shift (15) as one making haste for a long journey.
(ll. 87 89) But an old man tilling his flowering vineyard saw him as he was hurrying down the plain through grassy Onchestus. So the Son of Maia began and said to him:
(ll. 90 93) Old man, digging about your vines with bowed shoulders, surely you shall have much wine when all these bear fruit, if you obey me and strictly remember not to have seen what you have seen, and not to have heard what you have heard, and to keep silent when nothing of your own is harmed.’
(ll. 94 114) When he had said this much, he hurried the strong cattle on together: through many shadowy mountains and echoing gorges and flowery plains glorious Hermes drove them. And now the divine night, his dark ally, was mostly passed, and dawn that sets folk to work was quickly coming on, while bright Selene, daughter of the lord Pallas, Megamedes’ son, had just climbed her watch post, when the strong Son of Zeus drove the wide browed cattle of Phoebus Apollo to the river Alpheus. And they came unwearied to the high roofed byres and the drinking troughs that were before the noble meadow. Then, after he had well fed the loud bellowing cattle with fodder and driven them into the byre, close packed and chewing lotus and began to seek the art of fire. For it was Hermes who first invented fire sticks and fire. Next he took many dried sticks and piled them thick and plenty in a sunken trench: and flame began to glow, spreading afar the blast of fierce burning fire.
(ll. 115 137) And while the strength of glorious Hephaestus was beginning to kindle the fire, he dragged out two lowing, horned cows close to the fire; for great strength was with him. He threw them both panting upon their backs on the ground, and rolled them on their sides, bending their necks over (17), and pierced their vital chord. Then he went on from task to task: first he cut up the rich, fatted meat, and pierced it with wooden spits, and roasted flesh and the honourable chine and the paunch full of dark blood all together. He laid them there upon the ground, and spread out the hides on a rugged rock: and so they are still there many ages afterwards, a long, long time after all this, and are continually (18). Next glad hearted Hermes dragged the rich meats he had prepared and put them on a smooth, flat stone, and divided them into twelve portions distributed by lot, making each portion wholly honourable. Then glorious Hermes longed for the sacrificial meat, for the sweet savour wearied him, god though he was; nevertheless his proud heart was not prevailed upon to devour the flesh, although he greatly desired
(19). But he put away the fat and all the flesh in the high roofed byre, placing them high up to be a token of his youthful theft. And after that he gathered dry sticks and utterly destroyed with fire all the hoofs and all the heads.
(ll. 138 154) And when the god had duly finished all, he threw his sandals into deep eddying Alpheus, and quenched the embers, covering the black ashes with sand, and so spent the night while Selene’s soft light shone down. Then the god went straight back again at dawn to the bright crests of Cyllene, and no one met him on the long journey either of the blessed gods or mortal men, nor did any dog bark. And luck bringing Hermes, the son of Zeus, passed edgeways through the key hole of the hall like the autumn breeze, even as mist: straight through the cave he went and came to the rich inner chamber, walking softly, and making no noise as one might upon the floor. Then glorious Hermes went hurriedly to his cradle, wrapping his swaddling clothes about his shoulders as though he were a feeble babe, and lay playing with the covering about his knees; but at his left hand he kept close his sweet lyre.
(ll. 155 161) But the god did not pass unseen by the goddess his mother; but she said to him: How now, you rogue! Whence come you back so at night time, you that wear shamelessness as a garment? And now I surely believe the son of Leto will soon have you forth out of doors with unbreakable cords about your ribs, or you will live a rogue’s life in the glens robbing by whiles. Go to, then; your father got you to be a great worry to mortal men and deathless gods.’
(ll. 162 181) Then Hermes answered her with crafty words:
Mother, why do you seek to frighten me like a feeble child whose heart knows few words of blame, a fearful babe that fears its mother’s scolding? Nay, but I will try whatever plan is best, and so feed myself and you continually. We will not be content to remain here, as you bid, alone of all the gods unfee’d with offerings and prayers. Better to live in fellowship with the deathless gods continually, rich, wealthy, and enjoying stories of grain, than to sit always in a gloomy cave: and, as regards honour, I too will enter upon the rite that Apollo has. If my father will not give it to me, I will seek and I am able to be a prince of robbers. And if Leto’s most glorious son shall seek me out, I think another and a greater loss will befall him. For I will go to Pytho to break into his great house, and will plunder therefrom splendid tripods, and cauldrons, and gold, and plenty of bright iron, and much apparel; and you shall see it if you will.’
(ll. 182 189) With such words they spoke together, the son of Zeus who holds the aegis, and the lady Maia. Now Eros the early born was rising from deep flowing Ocean, bringing light to men, when Apollo, as he went, came to Onchestus, the lovely grove and sacred place of the loud roaring Holder of the Earth. There he found an old man grazing his beast along the pathway from his court yard fence, and the all glorious Son of Leto began and said to him.
(ll. 190 200) Old man, weeder (20) of grassy Onchestus, I am come here from Pieria seeking cattle, cows all of them, all with curving horns, from my herd. The black bull was grazing alone away from the rest, but fierce eyed hounds followed the cows, four of them, all of one mind, like men. These were left behind, the dogs and the bull which is great marvel; but the cows strayed out of the soft meadow, away from the pasture when the sun was just going down. Now tell me this, old man born long ago: have you seen one passing along behind those cows?’
(ll. 201 211) Then the old man answered him and said: My son, it is hard to tell all that one’s eyes see; for many wayfarers pass to and fro this way, some bent on much evil, and some on good: it is difficult to know each one. However, I was digging about my plot of vineyard all day long until the sun went down, and I thought, good sir, but I do not know for certain, that I marked a child, whoever the child was, that followed long horned cattle an infant who had a staff and kept walking from side to side: he was driving them backwards way, with their heads toward him.’
(ll. 212 218) So said the old man. And when Apollo heard this report, he went yet more quickly on his way, and presently, seeing a long winged bird, he knew at once by that omen that thief was the child of Zeus the son of Cronos. So the lord Apollo, son of Zeus, hurried on to goodly Pylos seeking his shambling oxen, and he had his broad shoulders covered with a dark cloud. But when the Far Shooter perceived the tracks, he cried:
(ll. 219 226) Oh, oh! Truly this is a great marvel that my eyes behold! These are indeed the tracks of straight horned oxen, but they are turned backwards towards the flowery meadow. But these others are not the footprints of man or woman or grey wolves or bears or lions, nor do I think they are the tracks of a rough maned Centaur whoever it be that with swift feet makes such monstrous footprints; wonderful are the tracks on this side of the way, but yet more wonderfully are those on that.’
(ll. 227 234) When he had so said, the lord Apollo, the Son of Zeus hastened on and came to the forest clad mountain of Cyllene and the deep shadowed cave in the rock where the divine nymph brought forth the child of Zeus who is the son of Cronos. A sweet odour spread over the lovely hill, and many thin shanked sheep were grazing on the grass. Then far shooting Apollo himself stepped down in haste over the stone threshold into the dusky cave.
(ll. 235 253) Now when the Son of Zeus and Maia saw Apollo in a rage about his cattle, he snuggled down in his fragrant swaddling clothes; and as wood ash covers over the deep embers of tree stumps, so Hermes cuddled himself up when he saw the Far Shooter. He squeezed head and hands and feet together in a small space, like a new born child seeking sweet sleep, though in truth he was wide awake, and he kept his lyre under his armpit. But the Son of Leto was aware and failed not to perceive the beautiful mountain nymph and her dear son, albeit a little child and swathed so craftily. He peered in ever corner of the great dwelling and, taking a bright key, he opened three closets full of nectar and lovely ambrosia. And much gold and silver was stored in them, and many garments of the nymph, some purple and some silvery white, such as are kept in the sacred houses of the blessed gods. Then, after the Son of Leto had searched out the recesses of the great house, he spake to glorious Hermes:
(ll. 254 259) Child, lying in the cradle, make haste and tell me of my cattle, or we two will soon fall out angrily. For I will take and cast you into dusty Tartarus and awful hopeless darkness, and neither your mother nor your father shall free you or bring you up again to the light, but you will wander under the earth and be the leader amongst little folk.’ (21)
(ll. 260 277) Then Hermes answered him with crafty words: Son of Leto, what harsh words are these you have spoken? And is it cattle of the field you are come here to seek? I have not seen them: I have not heard of them: no one has told me of them. I cannot give news of them, nor win the reward for news. Am I like a cattle liter, a stalwart person? This is no task for me: rather I care for other things: I care for sleep, and milk of my mother’s breast, and wrappings round my shoulders, and warm baths. Let no one hear the cause of this dispute; for this would be a great marvel indeed among the deathless gods, that a child newly born should pass in through the forepart of the house with cattle of the field: herein you speak extravagantly. I was born yesterday, and my feet are soft and the ground beneath is rough; nevertheless, if you will have it so, I will swear a great oath by my father’s head and vow that neither am I guilty myself, neither have I seen any other who stole your cows whatever cows may be; for I know them only by hearsay.’
(ll. 278 280) So, then, said Hermes, shooting quick glances from his eyes: and he kept raising his brows and looking this way and that, whistling long and listening to Apollo’s story as to an idle tale.
(ll. 281 292) But far working Apollo laughed softly and said to him: O rogue, deceiver, crafty in heart, you talk so innocently that I most surely believe that you have broken into many a well built house and stripped more than one poor wretch bare this night (22), gathering his goods together all over the house without noise. You will plague many a lonely herdsman in mountain glades, when you come on herds and thick fleeced sheep, and have a hankering after flesh. But come now, if you would not sleep your last and latest sleep, get out of your cradle, you comrade of dark night. Surely hereafter this shall be your title amongst the deathless gods, to be called the prince of robbers continually.’
(ll. 293 300) So said Phoebus Apollo, and took the child and began to carry him. But at that moment the strong Slayer of Argus had his plan, and, while Apollo held him in his hands, sent forth an omen, a hard worked belly serf, a rude messenger, and sneezed directly after. And when Apollo heard it, he dropped glorious Hermes out of his hands on the ground: then sitting down before him, though he was eager to go on his way, he spoke mockingly to Hermes:.