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Tracking Hermes, Pursuing Mercury$
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John F. Miller and Jenny Strauss Clay

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198777342

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198777342.001.0001

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Hermes among Pan and the Nymphs on Fourth-Century Votive Reliefs

Hermes among Pan and the Nymphs on Fourth-Century Votive Reliefs

(p.31) 3 Hermes among Pan and the Nymphs on Fourth-Century Votive Reliefs
Tracking Hermes, Pursuing Mercury

Carolyn M. Laferrière

Oxford University Press

The presence of Hermes on many Attic fourth-century BCE votive reliefs dedicated to Pan and the Nymphs is a common but unexpected feature of the corpus. Although he is not mentioned in the dedications inscribed onto the reliefs, Hermes nevertheless occupies a prominent position within the images as leader of the Nymphs’ dance. The incongruity between the dedication and the sculpted scenes is accounted for by considering the votive reliefs’ ritual function within Athenian religion and the genealogical relationship established between Hermes and Pan by the Homeric Hymn to Pan. It is argued that the votive reliefs, as expressions of Athenian visual theology, emphasize Hermes and Pan as coordinated figures within the reliefs, suggesting that the two gods work together to integrate the cult of the Nymphs within Athenian religious life.

Keywords:   Greek art, votive reliefs, Greek religion, Homeric Hymn, Hermes, Pan, Nymphs

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