Carrier of Love and Sympathy
Messenger of Friendship
Consoler of the Lonely
Bond of the Scattered Family
Enlarger of the Common Life
Carrier of News and Knowledge
Instrument of Trade and Commerce
Promoter of Mutual Acquaintance
Among Men and Nations and Hence of Peace and Goodwill
by Charles W. Eliot, from the Smithsonian Postal Museum in Washington, DC
Just a heads up for you all! I’ve mentioned it before on Twitter, but my alma mater, the University of Virginia, is hosting an international academic conference on Hermes and Mercury in the near future. From Rogue Classicism:
Of all the divinities of classical antiquity, the Greek Hermes (= Roman Mercury) is the most versatile, complex, and ambiguous. His functions embrace both the marking of boundaries and their transgression, commerce and theft, rhetoric and practical jokes; he also plays the role of mediator between all realms of human and divine activity, embracing heaven, earth and the netherworld. This conference at the University of Virginia aims to bring together scholars of Greek and Roman religion, art, literature, and history to assess this wide-ranging figure. We hope also to include attention to early reception of the god and his myths outside of Greece and Rome proper—for instance, Hermes as the Egyptian Thoth, the worship of Mercury in syncretistic forms in Rome’s imperial provinces, and allegorical interpretations of the god in late ancient and early medieval times.
The conference is being held in Charlottesville, VA from Thursday, March 27 through Saturday, March 29, hosted by the Department of Classics at the University of Virginia. Featuring 21 talks (with four keynote speakers from Leiden, Penn, Johns Hopkins, and Brown Universities) over three days, the event is bound to bring Hermes, along with his many roles and forms and friends and stories, into new light with new insight. I’ve been in touch with the professors organizing the event, and it’s open to all who want to attend; no price has been mentioned by them for attendance, so come one and come all. It’ll give me a good excuse to visit my college town again, and the place is beautiful for those who’ve never had a chance to visit. While it may not be unheard of for such conferences to be held at length on the old gods, I’ve got high hopes for this one and can only hope that more of these types of events in the future. Mark your calendars and make your hotel reservations; they’re cheap this time of year.