An Invocation for Hermes

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Museum Collection:  Metropolitan Museum, New York City, USA  Catalogue Number:  New York 25.78.2  Beazley Archive Number: 203182 Ware: Attic Red Figure  Shape: Lekythos  Painter: Attributed to the Tithonus Painter  Date: ca 500 - 450 BC  Period: Early Classical
Museum Collection: Metropolitan Museum

I call to the messenger of the blessed gods,
More nimble than wind
Faster than Zeus’s lightning
Angelos Athanaton
Come on winged foot
God of swift feet and messengers

I call to the clear-sighted one,
The clear-headed schemer,
The author of many cunning plans
Come to me by paths that wind
Like the writhing belly of a snake
God of snakes
And those who speak with forked-tongue
For I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.

I call to you
Who guides the feet of the psyche,
Through doors Celestial
— and Chthonic,
Into temptation or away from evil,
In life as well as in death
Waking and sleeping.
For though the way to the underworld is obscure to me
And though I cannot walk
From dream to dream
No path is hidden from you.



The final painting, by 19th century artist Frederick Leighton, shows Hermes returning Persephone to the land of the living.

I call to the messenger of the blessed dead,
Taking coins from the marketplace
Adding them to Charon’s bribe —
Entering even into a house of Hades.
A shepherd of his wealth
Angelos Makaron
Come by the way that is hidden in plain sight
Through unseen doors that are always open
And bring to me an omen from places below
For I know not where to look

I call to the sleepless one,
Resting with one sharp eyed open
Watchful shepherd,
Aesop would pour out a libation of milk
To Epimelios
God of rustic arts:

Poetry, pan-pipe and dalliance
Come to us, weary traveller
Take a respite from your wandering

I call to the helpful one,
Friend of humankind
Savior of Odysseus,
Come and join us,
For though there might be rules
Which would withhold your presence from us,
You know, I know, and we all know
That such rules cannot bind you
— Unless you so choose.


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