taotrooper: It's a polar bear dancing the hula; your argument is invalid (Klavier / rock this legal system)
Kiri ☂ ([personal profile] taotrooper) wrote2012-05-04 10:04 pm

100 things mythology [004/100]

Okay, okay, I swear that this time I'll make a post about something nicer. Here is a story that has a happy ending or at least it's happy if you're not the random old guy who saw it all. This is one of my favorite myths because the main character not only is a trickster, he actually gets away with it without a scratch and gets his life made because of his trolling. If you've read tales with more traditional tricksters (Loki, Coyote, Anansi, etc.) you'll be aware that it's a rare occurrence. Even Bugs Bunny loses sometimes. This awesome dude only loses when he lets you win.

This is the only story where Hermes of the Greco-Roman pantheon gets the leading role. They probably were too scared to let him be main character again when he got older, so from now on he's only the best support character. But that's a topic for another day, how Hermes is such a strange trickster. For now, let's go on with the story.

Some backstory first. You've probably heard at one point of your life the names of Hermes (or his Roman counterpart Mercury) and Apollo (or his counterpart... uh, Apollo.) Both are sons of Zeus and Olympian gods, each with a long list of stuff they're gods of, and part of what I like to call the Baka Trio of Olympus with younger brother Dionysus -disclaimer: said group doesn't exist, I just like to lump gods into categories. But this story is way before Hermes was an Olympian and Apollo was a professional god of music.

Hermes is the son of Maia, eldest of the Pleiads. She's not important except for having sex with Zeus and having one of his gazillion children. Because Hera likes to annoy at her husband's pregnant lovers in horrible ways, Maia chose wisely to hide in a cave in Mt. Cyllene in Arcadia, until the possibility of shitstorm was over. There she gave birth to a healthy baby boy, Hermes, and proceeded to take a nap right after childbirth. Oops.

The baby was, how to say it, really precocious. I mean, gods tend to be so or grow up fast or do amazing feats just hours or days after their birth, and Hermes was no exception. So this kid got up from his bed/cradle/something and decided to have fun while mom was asleep. And by fun, I mean child delinquency! He really tried at first to make the best of it, having clean-ish fun at the cave area.

Well, clean... He found a tortoise, played with it, then killed it :( and made this instrument out of its shell. Add some strings made with guts of sheep, and he invented something: the lyre.

That's one hell of a kindergarten handicraft! It took me 7 more years to make a pencil holder out of wooden pegs and a glass of baby compote.

Music and reptile murder was nice, but it wasn't edgy enough. So in a search of excitement, this divine Tommy Pickles came up with the heist of the century. Then again, there weren't many thieves by then and I'm not sure if that happened in the same century than the Prometheusgate. But anyway, Hermes ran away from home and when he saw a nice cattle, he decided to steal some of it. Just for the heck of it. He made up some sandals a few sizes larger, and off they go, a few cows whose hooves were turned 180º by Billy the Kid here, and a baby walking backwards. Enough to confuse any stupid god, he thinks.

But like I told you, there was an old guy who was eye witness. It would be hard to miss a baby and a bunch of cows, if you ask me. So Hermes asks him to please keep quiet. I'll tell you right away: later the man told the owner of the cattle exactly what he saw, and Hermes turned him into stone. Fucking creepy baby. Who was the owner of the cattle, you may ask? Dude, I already mentioned two gods and one hasn't appeared yet so do the math. It was no one other than Apollo, who was probably gone to have a noon nookie with someone. But we'll back to him in a minute.

So Hermes was in another cave with the cows, like hiding them in a garage or something. He's hungry and despite the gods don't really eat, he's like whatever. So he takes two of the cows and sacrifices them to the gods (just so we're clear on baby Hermes' badassery, he tossed them up and killed them by broking their necks with his bare hands), cuts the meat in twelve pieces, makes a fire with sticks and plants and shit, and he cooks the meat. He only saved one of the parts for himself. He couldn't really eat them because he's a god, and I'm not even sure he had his teeth out yet anyway.

Let's keep track now of what baby Hermes has invented until now.

  1. Lyre
  2. Shoes (probably)
  3. Taking your big sibling's toys without permission
  4. Fire the way a boy scout would do
  5. Barbecue

Then he went back home because it was evening already, and his worried mom caught him while he's trying to get back to his cradle. She's like "WHERE THE HELL HAVE YOU BEEN?!" Maia, understandably, is pissed that her newborn son has turned into a delinquent and will probably get killed by Apollo in a few minutes. Hermes ran out of fucks to give, and told his mom that he's aiming to get them out of their sad misery, and he's aiming high. He planned to become an important god himself. And if he can't, he'll become a prince of thieves and just steal Apollo's house next! Just what a mother wants to hear, kid.

The next morning, Apollo was back and discovered he's missing cow heads, and the footprints are a fucking mess to follow. But Hermes didn't count that his older half brother is a god of prophecy, so Apollo used his psychic powers and a lot of deductive logic to locate the criminal and follow him. Of course, the old man's testimony helped a lot too. So Apollo set to Maia's cave, angry as fuck and with murderous intent. He didn't give a shit if the thief is a baby. If you think baby Hermes' strength is scary, I'll tell you that Apollo in a bad mood is fucking terrifying. This isn't something they tell you straight up in myths, but it's a fact. Hermes was a baby in the woods, literally and figuratively, if he were to fight with Apollo.

Okay, so Apollo went to Maia's cave, and started to look everywhere -cupboards, chests, etc.- like he was a video game character barging into a person's house to get items. He was angry as fuck here. He confronted Hermes, who was pretending to be sleeping in his cradle and putting his cutest, most innocent baby face.

Not pictured: a lyre under his armpit, his complete lack of innocence

Apollo was not fooled, and he immediately demanded the baby brother to tell him where is his cattle, or he'd throw him into Tartarus forever. Hermes is all "Letoides, I don't understand your harsh words. You come for a cattle, but I don't even know what cows are! I'm just a little widdle baby, I only know milk and blankets and baths and sleeping. Or do you really think a newborn baby just trolled and shamed a god of Olympus?" Apollo laughed all "Awww, look at him talk all smooth and innocent! Who's the cutest motherfucking lying thief? Yes, you are." Because Paulie wasn't born yesterday... unlike Hermie, who literally was.

So Apollo took Hermes in his arms, Hermes burped and sneezed on his face, and Apollo dropped him. So they both walked, not taking that risk again. Apollo took him to Zeus' presence to solve this issue. Yup, court session!

"I hope this is good, Apollo. I had to cancel a booty call, and now you bring a pretty toddler here?!"

"Dad, your new son just stole my cows!!!"

...There are no babies in Ace Attorney :((((

Anyway, Klavier Gavin Apollo told the story and explained the evidence. Hermes was his own defense attorney, and he claimed that this guy just came to his house with no witness and threatened to toss him to Tartarus, and he was not guilty.

Hermes: *puppy eyes*
Zeus: Just go you two and get your brother's cows from where you hid them.
Hermes: But I'm inn--
Zeus: *nods strongly*
Hermes: Sob.
Hermes: Oh man...

And you might think that this would be a case of the fastest SON I AM DISAPPOINT in the universe, but you know what? He actually caused a good first impression on his dad. Probably then Zeus decided that someone with such lip and ninja skills would be amazing to have as his errand boy. That's probably how Hermes would get his herald job when he grew up. But will Apollo even let him grow up? Let's find out.

Apollo forced Hermes to take him to the parking lot where he parked the cows. There he saw the skins of the dead cows just drying around, and he was disturbed that a baby with baby hands could flay the shit out of two cows. Obviously, we can't let the owner of such strength to keep growing up, if you ask Apollo. He tried to tie the boy up, but the bounds elude Hermes and go to the cows. This gave the latter a chance to save his neck, by reaching for the lyre under his security blanket and playing some strings.

Music calms the beasts. Apparently it also calms angry gods. Here's Apollo's reaction to this new way to make music.

He was so, so, so, so impressed that he completely forgave him for the cow theft, as the lyre's music was much sweeter than that. So they came to an arrangement and Hermes gladly gave it to Apollo as a gift. He got to keep the cows, a nice staff from Apollo, and became a god of shepherds for a while. Ever since, Apollo and Hermes have been tight bros in a literal and figurative sense. Hermes promised to never steal from his big brother again... but he did one more trade for divine freebies in exchange of new musical instruments. He invented the flute little time after that, and while Apollo couldn't teach him to be an oracle, he directed him to good divination teachers.

Yay! So this one had a happy ending! I mean, except for that poor man... and let's not forget the poor tortoise... WELL, IT COULD BE MUCH WORSE.

4th of some month, nevah forget.

If you want to read the full story, here's the Homeric hymn: