Herm of Hermes

Ancient Rome, 1st - 2nd centuries

The herma - a stone column topped by the head of the god Hermes - was one of the oldest types of cult structure in Ancient Greece. Originally it was simply a pile of stones. Hermes, the son of Zeus and Maia (one of the Pleiades), was the protector of travellers and merchants, one of the most venerated deities since even a short journey was potentially dangerous due to the large number of robbers and pirates. Hermae were placed at crossroads and gates. The destruction of a herma was considered one of the gravest acts of sacrilege. In the 470s-460s BC the famous Greek sculptor Alcamenes created the herma of Hermes Propylaeus (of Gateways) that served as a model for other sculptors, including Roman copyists. Alcamenes combined a decorative treatment of the locks of hair and the beard with classically regular facial features. This work, found in Athens, is set apart from other variants on Alcamenes's herma by the shawl that descends from the god's head in soft, heavy folds.

Information about the original:


Herm of Hermes




134,0 cm

Acquisition date:

Entered the Hermitage in 1852; originally in the Laval collection

Inventory Number: