Upon birth, Hermes, son of Zeus, tricks the gods with unsurpassed cunning and proves himself worthy of inclusion among the Pantheon of Olympus.Tweet
Hermes, son of Zeus and Maia, brother of Apollo and Athena, was borne unto the Pleiades nymph Maia in secret and kept in a cave, swaddled in strips of fabric, and surrounded by a train of maiden nymphs. Kept up in such a crib, confined to the conditions of a suckling babe, he matured near-instantly in vigor, though not in size. The baby Hermes undid his swaddling and leapt from his mother’s bosom, crept past his nursemaids and exited his nursery under the cover of night.
Outside Mount Cyllene (modern: Mount Kyllini, Greece), beyond the cave where he lay, was kept a flock of sheep by Apollo, his older brother. This he stole and herded off behind an outcropping of rocks with the intent to hide it from Apollo for he took a liking to the cuddly beasts. Hermes then returned to the cave and swaddled himself back up in his mother’s arms, bound tight in the strips of cloth that covered him earlier.
The next morning, Apollo came to Maia with an accusation on Hermes that Hermes was the thief of his flock of sheep. Incredulous, the claim was rejected. As how could anyone believe a baby did such a deed? For it was still wrapped up tightly in linens and had been guarded by a host of grown women all night. Still, Apollo persisted, being ever desirous of justice and knowing full well what had occurred.
Well, Hermes felt his first pang of conscience and did not want to betray his bro. He just wanted to play with Apollo and could not help but shepherd off those grazing animals. So, to forgive himself of any evilness—for the aim of true mischief is not to do harm but to stir up action in life—Hermes revealed the location of the hidden flock and what more, stole the shell off a turtle, strung it up with fibers of wool from the sheep, and gave it to Apollo as a gift. Showing how to pluck the threads to generate a beautiful string of sounds, Hermes invented the lyre, which became Apollo’s famed instrument. In return, Apollo forgave Hermes and relinquished his shepherd’s staff and the flock of sheep.
So, that day, the two became eternal friends as well as immortal brothers.