6

Hermes is a name with a few similar sounding words, all of which (that I'm aware of) are related to traits of Hermes:

  • Hermeticism: a spiritual tradition based on Hermes as corresponding with Egyptian Thoth, associated with magic, writing, intellect, language's roots, and more. Etymology traces this to Latin hermeticus, derived from the name of the Greek god Hermes.

  • Hermeneutics: an art and science of deep interpretation, especially of sacred texts. Etymology traces this to Greek ἑρμηνεύς (hermeneus, "translator, interpreter"), which is of unknown origin, but a folk etymology for hermeneutics associates it with Hermes.

  • Hermetic seal: Wikipedia's page on Hermeticism notes "Hermes Trimegistus supposedly invented the process of making a glass tube airtight (a process in alchemy) using a secret seal. Hence, the term "completely sealed" is implied in "hermetically sealed" and the term "hermetic" is also equivalent to "occult" or hidden."

  • Hermit and hermitage: a life setting (physical, emotional, or both) based on isolation from other humans, originating from "the Greek ἐρημίτης (erēmitēs), "of the desert", which in turn comes from ἔρημος (erēmos), signifying "desert", "uninhabited", hence "desert-dweller"; adjective: "eremitic"."

Hermit seems to be the only word sounding like Hermes but not etymologically linked to Hermes. Is there a clear link, historic or otherwise, between hermit and Hermes?

For what it's worth, the Greek for "interpretation" and for "of the desert" are quite similar, sharing their beginning but differing in their middle and end:

ἑρμηνεύς - hermeneus - interpretation
ἐρημίτης - erēmitēs - of the desert
  • 4
    Good question. My understanding is it is fundamentally related to the "mercurial" quality of the god. I'll think on it, and see if I can cobble together an answer (likely to be general as esoteric writings are not so available and easy to reference online.) – DukeZhou Feb 28 at 17:35
  • 2
    The etymologies are worth examining. I did a quick search on Perseus for ἑρμ / ἐρη (although I wasn't able to get a list specifying the aspiration.) My sense of the connection with deserts has to do with trade and trade routes, and the use of pillars of stones ("herms" used to guide travelers. – DukeZhou Mar 1 at 18:55
  • 2
    The concept of interpretation seems to come from this idea that a monument is a symbol, which is attributed to Euripides in the LSJ entry for ἑρμήν-ευμα: perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/…. It's been a while since I looked at this, so I'll need a little time to compile info, but I think I can answer. – DukeZhou Mar 1 at 19:00
  • 1
  • 1
    That is a nice question. Maybe this is still "hermetically sealed" and as you said, the term "hermetic" is also equivalent to "occult" or hidden." I guess is the case for now, until you find out. I guess one possible link, not a clear one, is that Hermes is connected to the occult, so the gypsy people who carried occult knowledge like tarot (derived from Thot-Hermes) can be considered hermits in some way? Maybe this could be a lead. Hope it helps, seeker. – mmelotti Mar 12 at 1:47
-2

The link is straight forward Hermes is the god of traveller's wanderers. Hermits are wonderers of the desert.

Some of the information contained in this post requires additional references. Please edit to add citations to reliable sources that support the assertions made here. Unsourced material may be disputed or deleted.

  • 2
    Hi and welcome to M&F SE, please take a second to take our tour. On this forum, we really like to add some context/sources to our answers/questions, even if the message you want to deliver seems easy and straightforward to you, it may not be to others. And as per your answer you say the link between hermits and Hermes is clear but I'd rather see an opposition between wanderers and people looking for isolation from other humans – Calaom May 13 at 7:25
  • 2
    Please try to add sources sustaining your answer and a more sustainable explanation to your thinking. I'll be glad to help you if needed! – Calaom May 13 at 7:28

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.