Hermes (Greek: Ἑρμῆς) is the god of heraldry, merchants, trade, commerce, thieves, roads, sports, travelers, and athletes in ancient Greek religion and myth. The son of Zeus and the Pleiad Maia, he was the youngest of the Twelve Olympians prior to the ascension of Dionysus. Hermes served as the messenger of the gods, and, like Athena, was believed to have provided aid to heroes such as Perseus and Odysseus. Additionally, Hermes filled the role of Psychopomp, serving as the guide of lost souls to the afterlife. He was the patron of herdsmen and shepherds, said to have aided in keeping a watchful eye out as the flocks grazed. Both crafty and deceitful, Hermes is quick to be labeled as a trickster with an affinity for mischief; this is most prevalent in the story of his birth, in which he stole the sacred cattle of Apollo. Hermes is said to have created the sport of foot racing, a testament to the god's physical prowess; as such, he was the patron god of athletic competition. He was also the protector of travelers and merchants, and was revered as one who brought good luck and fortune. His symbols included the herma, along with his signature winged cap and sandals and the ram, rooster, and tortoise were his sacred animals. The most recognizable of all Hermes' attributes was the kerykeion (Latin caduceus), which appears as a winged golden staff with two snakes wrapped around it. The god Mercury is his Roman counterpart.
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