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Headword: *(ermw=n. *(ermoi\
Adler number: epsilon,3051
Translated headword: of hermai, of hermae, of herms
Vetting Status: high
There were Herms, of stone, in the city of Athens, in the entryways and in the shrines:[1] they say that because Hermes is guardian of reason and truth, for this reason they gave to the statues a rectangular or cubic form, hinting that such a form, on whichever side it should fall, is stable and upright on every side. So, both reason and truth are similar themselves on every side, whereas falsity is manifold and divided and extremely discordant with itself.[2]
Greek Original:
*(ermw=n. *(ermoi\ h)=san e)n th=| *)aqhnai/wn po/lei li/qinoi e)n proqu/rois kai\ i(eroi=s: e)peidh/ fasi to\n *(ermh=n lo/gou kai\ a)lhqei/as e)/foron ei)=nai, dia\ tou=to kai\ ta\s ei)ko/nas au)tou= tetragw/nous kai\ kuboeidei=s kateskeu/azon, ai)nitto/menoi to\ toiou=ton sxh=ma, e)f' a(\ me/rh pe/sh|, pantaxo/qen ba/simon kai\ o)/rqion ei)=nai. ou(/tw kai\ o( lo/gos kai\ h( a)lh/qeia o(moi/a e)sti\ pantaxo/qen au)th\ e(auth=|, to\ de\ yeu=dos polu/xoun kai\ polusxide\s kai\ e(autw=| ma/lista a)su/mfwnon.
The primary headword is the genitive plural of Hermai (sic: the transmitted 'Hermoi', beginning the body of the entry, is anomalous). It must be extracted either from alpha 1280 or directly from Thucydides 6.27ff (at 28.1 & 2), on the mutilation of the Herms by, allegedly, Alkibiades and others. (For more information about the episode see alpha 1280; Plutarch, Alcibiades 18 (web address 1); Nepos, Alcibiades 3, says that all the herms in Athens were mutilated, except the one in front of Andokides' house.) In any event the bulk of the present entry draws on the scholia to Thuc. 6.27.1. See also epsilon 3047.
[1] Rectangular marble herms with bearded portrait of Hermes and genital attributes were also erected along the streets, in the crossroads, along the property borders and in front of private houses.
[2] For the Herms of Hipparchos, designed to display wisdom directly rather than symbolically, see epsilon 3029.
See in brief OCD(4) s.v. 'herms'.
For detail, the best modern study -- far broader than its title suggests -- is Robin Osborne, 'The erection and mutilation of the Hermai', Proceedings of the Cambridge Philological Society n.s.31 (1985) 47-73.
For Onesippos' Herm at Athens see Edmonson C.N., "Onesippos' Herm", Hesperia supplement XIX, 1982
Associated internet address:
Web address 1
Keywords: architecture; art history; definition; dialects, grammar, and etymology; historiography; history; imagery; mythology; philosophy; religion
Translated by: Andrea Consogno on 11 July 2005@11:12:51.
Vetted by:
David Whitehead (restored vetting status) on 13 July 2005@03:09:22.
David Whitehead (another keyword; tweaking) on 28 October 2012@09:22:09.
David Whitehead on 3 August 2014@08:33:33.
Catharine Roth (cross-reference) on 7 December 2017@01:17:49.


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