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Hermes the Thief: The Evolution of a Myth


Hermes the Thief: The Evolution of a Myth

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    Available in PDF Format | Hermes the Thief: The Evolution of a Myth.pdf | English
    Norman O. Brown(Author)
Hermes - trickster and culture hero, divine child and patron of steady action, master of magic words, seducer and whisper - is a vital and complex figure in Greek mythology. Who is this tricky shapechanger? A classic, prescient work dealing with myth and cult which traces the evolution of Hermes from sacred stoneheap and phallus to Homeric Hymn to Hermes and the Hesiodic poems.

Norman Oliver Brown (1913-2002) was an American intellectual of wide ranging interests, graduating from Oxford with an MA and from the University of Wisconsin in Madison with a Ph.D. in the Classics. During World War II, Brown worked for the OSS as a specialist on French culture and later became Professor of Classics at Wesleyan University. In the late 1960s, he moved on to the University of California, Santa Cruz, where he was named Professor of Humanities. His initial work in classics betrayed a Marxist bent (his commentary to Hesiod's Theogony and his first monograph, Hermes the Thief). Following his disenchantment with real politics in the wake of the 1948 presidential election, Brown turned to a deep study of the works of Freud, which culminated in his classic 1959 study Life Against Death: The Psychoanalytic Meaning of History. During his long residence at Santa Cruz, his interests broadened to include James Joyce, classical poetry and mythology, and a deep study of Islam. Many of his later writings were collected in the anthology Apocalypse and/or Metamorphosis.

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Book details

  • PDF | 164 pages
  • Norman O. Brown(Author)
  • Lindisfarne Books (12 Jun. 1905)
  • English
  • 7
  • Society, Politics & Philosophy
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Review Text

  • By Guest on 2 December 2004

    A very clear, interesting and useful text on Hermes as 'thief'. Excellent detail on the difference between "theft" and "robbery" in the original Greek, and how this affects Hermes' actions. His acts of magic, seduction and theft were all done by stealth and trickery, not outright force or obviousness.I was after a book to give me an insight into the character of Hermes, and his behaviour - this was perfect. It includes the text of the only source that gives much detail on him alone, including his birth and most of his famous accomplishments. The first half of the book (on the trickster/thief/magician becoming Herald/boundary guardian/patron of the marketplace) answered my needs more thoroughly than the text in the second half.In the days of McWicca books and sensationalising legends, it's wonderful to have a really serious study of a deity - every statement is considered from multiple viewpoints, backed up with what the evidence would have meant to people at the time. Recommended.

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