Hermes holds his younger brother Dionysus in the Museum of Antiquities
Hermes holds his younger brother Dionysus in the Museum of Antiquities

Interviews with inanimate objects: Hermes and Dionysus

There are fascinating statues, artifacts and fun objects located all over the University of Saskatchewan campus. Get to know them a little better with this year’s On Campus News back page feature: Interviews with inanimate objects.

Location: The Museum of Antiquities, Peter MacKinnon Building

Tell me a bit about yourself.
My name is Hermes. I’m known
as the Greek messenger god, so sometimes I wear wing sandals to get me to where I’m going even faster. Of all the gods, I can move between the worlds of mortality and divinity pretty easily. I also have a reputation as a cunning prankster.

When did you get here?
I’ve been part of the museum since 1975. I am a replica of
a statue from the Musée du Louvre in Paris, France. The original was found in 1877 at the Archaeological Site of Olympia, Greece, now a UN World Heritage Site. Other historic works nearby include Nike of Paeonius and the Temple of Zeus.

Who created you?
I was sculpted by Praxiteles, a prominent Greek sculptor from the fourth century BC. Among his talents, he was the first artist to sculpt nude, life-size females, the most celebrated—and controversial—being Aphrodite of Cnidos. She’s missing her head and arms, but her torso is there.

Who are you carrying?
This is my little brother, Dionysus. Or rather, another half-brother. My mother is Maia. His mother is Semele, a mortal. Zeus, the king of the gods, is our father. Anyway, as the god of wine, Dionysus is already pretty rowdy—I think he’s going to be a handful when he grows up.

Where are you going?
I have been tasked with taking Dionysus down to the forest to be raised by nymphs and satyrs. As you may know, Zeus likes to get around, and it’s best if his wife, Hera, doesn’t find out about yet another love child. She actually instigated the death of pregnant Semele by tricking Zeus into appearing to her as a bolt of lightning, and she was burnt to a crisp. Then he stitched the fetus of Dionysus into his thigh and carried him to term. Never a dull day around here.

What’s the best prank you ever played?
Once, I played a great prank on my other half-brother, Apollo—
I stole all his sheep! Anyway, he tattled on me to Zeus, and I got in trouble. I did feel some regret about it, though, so I made Apollo a lyre, similar to a harp, out of an old turtle shell. He really liked it and we called it even. But still—I was only a day old when I did that, so you have to wonder if he was even paying attention.

 

Information provided by Tracene Harvey, Museum of Antiquities

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