Make a hymn to Hermes, Muse, son of Zeus and Maia. He lords it over Kyllene and Arkadia, rich in flocks, courier of the immortals, messenger, quick-as-death, infant born to Maia, a nymph with beautiful hair. It was her pleasure to avoid the company of the blessèd gods preferring to live in a deep shady cave. There the Son of Kronos used to lie with her, that nymph with the beautiful hair, under cover of night, while sweet sleep spell-bound white-armed Hera, the immortal gods and mortal people both, lost in oblivion. But when the intent of mighty Zeus was accomplished, and Maia's tenth moon was fixed in the heavens, she bore a child of infinite devices, child of winning wiles, a cattle-driver, leader-of-dreams, watcher-by-night, thief-at-the-gates, a deity soon to perform remarkable deeds among the immortals. Dawn-born, by mid-day he was playing the lyre; by evening he'd pilfered the cows of Apollo— all this, on the fourth of the month, the day Lady Maia bore him. And once he'd jumped from th'immortal womb of his mother, he didn't lie waiting around in the sacred cradle but vaulted the threshold of the high-roofed cave and went after those cows. In the cave-yard was a turtle, in whom he intuited a thousand pleasures to come. (Hermes, indeed, was the first to turn a turtle to song.) The slow-footed creature was eating high grass just outside of the dwelling, so the messenger, quick-as-death, son of Zeus laughed and addressed it: "It's a sign! Good fortune for me! And so soon! I do not poo poo it. Hello, O dance beat, O friend of the feast, O lovely to look at, happily manifesting before me without further ado. But where did you get that gorgeous garment, ahem, that fantastically ornamented carapace?— and you but a turtle, living in the wastes of these mountains! I'll take you into the house, you'll be—of use, (no dishonor intended), but primarily (I can see it) of great profit for me. I think you would do well to stay at home— danger lurks out there beyond the portal. Alive, you'll work as a charm against witchcraft; If you die, you'll make beautiful song." So he spoke. And lifting the pleasant plaything with both his hands, he took it into the cave house and scooped out its spinal marrow with a chisel of iron. And just as when a swift thought drives right through the breast of a man when thronging anxieties distract him, or as when sparkling glances apin from his eyes, so was it the habit of noble Hermes to join word and deed together in a single action. He cut reed stalks and attached them at measured spans through the shell of the tortoise, and with skill stretched an ox skin across it, and put the horns in, then their cross piece, and set in place the seven sheep-gut strings. Once he'd finished its fashioning, he took up the happy contrivance and gave it a try with its plectrum, part by part. It sounded just fantastic beneath his fingers. And the god sang very well whatever occurred to him, improvising like boys bandying taunts at some festival. What did he sing? He sang of Zeus and Maia with the beautiful shoes, how once they made love and begot him! He came out with the whole glorious business; and he winked in song at his mother's chamber girls and praised her glittering villas with their tripods distributed everywhere and their kettles overflowing. But even while he was ticking off these ditties other matters occupied his thought: he'd developed a hank'ring to eat meat; so, stashing the hollow lyre in his sacred cradle, he was out again from his mother's sweetly odoriferous abode, this time up to a lofty lookout point plotting high chicanery in his heart, such as subdolous persons pursue in black night— lusting after something. Helios was descending under the earth toward Okeanos with his horses and car, and Hermes came scurrying along to the shadowy hills of Pieria. There the immortal cows of the blessèd gods had their stables and did their cow things in an uncut meadow, quite delightful. Of these, the son of Maia, keen-sighted slayer of Argos, separated fifty loud-bellowing cows and drove the scattered lot of them across a sandy place, nor did he neglect this crafty stratagem: he caused their hooves to go backwards so that front feet seemed back feet, back feet front, while he himself marched along in the conventional manner. To accomplish the latter, in a snap he wove wicker-work sandals by the sands of the sea— an act of sheer thaumaturgy producing inconceivable and previously unimagined objects. Here's how he did it: Having taken pains to prepare for a considerable journey in a manner peculiar to his wiles he intertwined twigs of tamarisk and myrtle and secured them under his feet as nimble shoes. He'd already bound together a bundle of fresh branches, including the leaves, plucked in Pieria. But an old fellow tilling his vineyard happened to take note of him speeding across the fields to grassy Onchestus. Said Hermes: "Old fellow, tending your vines though your shoulders are stooping, there’ll be much wine here when these shoots of yours ripen, if you manage NOT to see what in fact you are seeing and to be deaf to that which you hear. Mum's the word. Then no harm will befall what rightly belongs to you." That said, noble Hermes gathered the cattle and drove them through shadowy mountains, down sounding gorges, across fresh flowering fields. At this point daimoniac Night, his murky ally, was almost over. The time, just before daybreak, that gets people up and working, was just coming on. Bright Selênê, daughter of Pallas, Megamedes' son (that is, the moon) had newly climbed her lookout. Then the mighty son of Zeus took the cow-eyed cows of Phoibos Apollo to the river Alphaeus. When he'd fed the bellowing beasts with cattle fodder and packed them into the cow-fold to sup on dewy galingale and lotus, he gathered a woodpile and invented the art of starting wood fires. Selecting branches of shining laurel, he trimmed them, and, with iron firm in hand… [ ] and the fragrant heat went up. For Hermes was the first to draw fire from fire sticks. So taking many dry ones he piled them thick in a deep trench. Flame flashed sending abroad a fearsome blaze. As the force of Hephaistos was beginning to get the fire going, single-handedly he dragged two bellowing cows near to the trench, for great power was in him. He threw them snorting to the ground, pulling their heads back and rolled them onto their sides to get at the spines and pierced them through to the spinal marrow, proceeding from deed to deed, cutting the fat-rich meat and pierced it with wood spits, flesh and venerable backs and black blood together to be cooked with the entrails. Then he set all that apart and spread the skins on a jagged rock so that even now, long after so many ages have gone by, there they are—clear to behold—in perpetuity. Next, happy-hearted Hermes dragged the rich results of his labors—that is, the meat— onto a flat smooth rock and divided the lot in twelve equal portions, showing perfect honor to each one. And Hermes was ravenous to gorge on the holy meat, for the sweet odor overcame him, though he was a god. 135 Not that his proud heart in fact succumbed. Rather, he stashed all that flesh and fat high away in the loft of the stable as a monument to his precocious thievery and then, once again, he gathered dry sticks in order to commit to the flames the heads and the hooves. Now, when Hermes had done what had to be done, he threw his sandals away in the deep eddying Alphaeus. He cooled and extinguished the black embers with sand, watching all night while the moon shined down. Then he went back to the bright peaks of Kyllene, neither god nor person intercepting him, and no dogs dogged his trail on the long trip home. When he got there, Hermes slipped slanting edgewise through a key-hole in the cave-hall door like a cool late summer breeze or like a mist. Straight through the cave he flew to the rich inner chamber, soft stepping, advancing, not thumping loudly as one might upon the floor, but glorious Hermes furiously sped to his cradle and wrapping his blankets about his shoulders like a feeble babe, he lay their playing with the coverlet over his knees, though on his left he secured the turtle lyre. But the god eluded not his goddess mother. She said: "You bloody rogue! Whence do you come in the middle of the night wearing shamelessness as your cloak? Now I see that the son of Leto will tie you up with a rope about your rib cage and drag you out of doors — or else you'll have to live like a thief in the glens by stealth and wiles. So up with you! Your father begot you to be nothing but a terrible nuisance to gods and mortals." Hermes responded to her with a tricky speech: "Mother, why do you try to scare me with such business, as if I were a feeble babe, ignorant of the language of blame within the human breast, a trembling infant who fears his mother's scowls? You know I will try out whatever plan seems best, feeding myself, and you too, uninterruptedly. And, by the way, we all not stay here, alone of all the gods unattended by prayers and offerings, as is your habit. Better to live among them for all our days, wealthy and well-stocked with grain, than to make our home in this gloomy cave. And as regards to prerogatives, either I shall share in the rites that Apollo has, or, if my father refuses me that, I'll seek, as well I can, to make myself the very prince of felons. And if Leto's illustrious son tries to find me, a thing I think he won't like will likely befall him: I go to Delphi —break into that big building of his —plunder his tripods —knock over his cauldrons —make away with his brilliant iron and shining gold also his fancy garments— you'll be a party to this—if you want to." With words like these, they spoke to one another— son of Zeus, Aegis-holder, and Lady Maia. Now Dawn, who bears the early light to mortals, was rising from deep-flowing Okeanos. And at that moment Apollo approached Onchestus, the exceedingly lovely grove of loud-bellowing, Earth-holder Poseidon, and sacred to him. There he found an old man grazing some animal on an out-path out past his courtyard fence. The glorious son of Leto was first to speak. "Old fellow — thorn-plucker of grassy Onchestus, I come from Pieria looking for my cows. All the ones from my herd have curling horns. A blue-black bull was grazing apart from the others. Fierce-eyed hounds were chasing behind — four of them. All of one mind. Like men. The hounds and the bull stayed back. This in itself is a marvel. But yesterday, when the sun was just going down, apart from the sweet pasture out of the gentle meadow the cattle vanished. So tell me, good fellow, born long ago, if perhaps you have seen a man following along behind those cows." The old man replied: "My boy, it is difficult to put into words all that the eye sees. Many sorts of travelers pass by here, some bent on mischief, some intent on good — and it's tough to speak for each one. But it seemed to me I saw a child — I think I did — following along behind a herd of long-horned cattle. He was walking from side to side with a sort of staff, driving them backwards, keeping their heads facing toward him." So the old man spoke. And when Apollo heard him, he sped at once on his way, and recognized an omen in a long-winged bird: the thief of the cattle was the child of Zeus, son of Kronos, so the son of Zeus, Lord Apollo, headed toward to Pylos to find his slow-footed cows, having shrouded his broad shoulders in a purple cloud. And when Apollo who shoots from afar actually saw the cattle-tracks, he exclaimed: "Amazing! These over here, indeed are the tracks of straight-horned oxen, but they're heading back to the meadow. And these other ones cannot belong to man or woman, to lion, gray wolf, or to bear, or shaggy centaur either. What kind of beast's swift feet leave such extraordinary footprints? Astonishing are the tracks on this side of the path, but even more astonishing are those left on the other." So speaking, Lord Apollo, son of Zeus, took off again, and came to the ever-wooded mountain of Kyllene, to the deeply shaded cavern in the rock where our ambrosial nymph had given birth to the child of Zeus, son of Kronos. A pleasant odor perfumed the pleasant hillside and many thin-ankled sheep were grazing on the grass. And Apollo, who shoots from afar, himself stepped down over the stony threshold into the dark cave. And when the son of Zeus and Maia became aware that Apollo, who shoots from afar, was in a rage over his cattle, he sank into his fragrant blanket. Just as wood ash conceals the ember of a wood fire, so Hermes concealed himself when he caught a glimpse of that god, who acts from afar. He contracted head, hands, and feet within small compass, like an infant falling into slumber. In fact he was wide awake, with his turtle stashed under his armpit. But the Son of Zeus and Leto was perfectly aware and wary of the beautiful mountain nymph and her dear son— that little child, tucked-in and so deviously swaddled. Apollo inspected every nook and cranny of the nymph's great house and unlocked her three closets with a shining key. They were full of nectar and ambrosia, great caches of silver and gold and Maia's sumptuous wardrobe, garments of silver white and Phoenician purple, such as sacred dwellings of the blessèd gods store inside them. And when he'd flushed out every corner of the house the Son of Leto addressed illustrious Hermes: "O child, who lies in cradle, put me in mind of my cows without delay since otherwise we two will fall out quite indecorously. For I will seize and toss you into misty Tartaros, into darkness, numinous, hopeless, and neither your father nor mother will be able to release you up into the light, but under earth you'll wander and be the mighty hegemon of dead children." Hermes responded with tricky discourse: "Son of Leto, such intemperate speech! You come here seeking field cows? I haven't seen, I haven't heard, I haven't heard from another anything about them, so I cannot put you in mind of them or claim reward for so doing. Do I look like a cattle-rustler — some kind of muscle man? This is hardly my business — other matters concern me: sleep concerns me, and milk from my mother's teats, and to have warm blankets wrapped around my shoulders and nice hot baths. And I hope that no one will wonder from what our dispute arises. 'Twould be a great marvel among the immortals that a new-born child should come into the front of the house with field cows. You deal in impossibilities. I was just born yesterday. My feet are tender and the ground is rough. If you wish, I'll swear a great oath on the head of my father that I am not myself nor have I seen another who is the thief of your cows — whatever cows are — their very existence is but a rumor to me!" So he spoke. And casting glances sharply from his eyes, he kept working his eyebrows and looking here and there and whistling while list'ning to Apollo talk. Apollo, who works from afar, while laughing softly, said to him: "You knavish pipsqueak — with mendacity and craft in your heart — you speak so guilelessly I'm persuaded — that tonight you've broken into many-a-well-secured domicile and fleeced more than one unsuspecting wight silently assembling pelf form all over the messuages. No doubt you'll be a plague to many rustic herdsmen in mountain glades whenever you come upon cattle herds or sheep with ample fleeces and contrive a hankering for meat. But come now, you companion of black night, if you would not sleep your last — get out of that cradle! I concede you have earned the right among th'immortals to be known as Prince of Felons, for all your days." So spoke Apollo and grabbed the child and picked him up, but Strong Argeiphontes had his resources. While still held in his arms, he distracted Phoibos Apollo by issuing an omen: A fat peasant appeared out of nowhere. Then Hermes sneezed. Apollo tuned into it and dropped the boy and, though eager to get going, played along, sitting right down on the ground with Illustrious Hermes. "Fear not, little Hermes," he said, "Son of Zeus and Maia — I'll find the strong cattle by means of these omens, and you shall show me the way." Kyllenian Hermes sprang up instantly and pushed the blanket he'd wrapped about his shoulders up over his ears and made this speech: "Where are you taking me, Far-worker — most hasty of all the gods? Is it because of your cows that you are angered and so seek to provoke me? Pfui! I'd let the whole species of cows go down to ruin! For I did not steel your cows, nor see another do it — whatever cows are: their very existence is but a rumor to me. I demand Justice! Lets take our case to Kronion Zeus!" Hermes, the shepherd, and the Brilliant Son of Zeus were both thus taking matters very much to heart contending explicitly for each point. Apollo, speaking truthfully, not unjustly would have seized Illustrious Hermes had the Kyllenian not wished to make a fool of the God of the Silver Bow with stratagems and false flattering speeches. But as soon as Hermes discovered that Apollo was just as resourceful as he, he urgently began to tramp across the sands, himself in the lead, the Son of Zeus and Leto following after. The two fair off-spring of Kronion Zeus quickly came up to their father at the summit of fragrant Olympos, for there the Scales of Justice were set for them both and there, on snow-covered Olympos, just after Dawn of the golden throne, the indestructible, immortal gods were gathered. Hermes and Apollo of the silver bow stood at the knees of high-thund'ring Zeus,, and Zeus inquired of his illustrious son, putting this speech to him: "Phoibos, whence did you pick up this plunder — this new-born child, who has the noble stature of a herald? This matter that comes to the gods' assembly seems to be quite grave." Lord Apollo, who works from afar, answered thus: "O Father, you shall hear forthwith a tale not easily trivialized, though you jest that I myself am a lover of plunder. Here indeed is a child — a manifest ravager — whom I found at the end of a long journey in the mountains of Kyllene. I myself have never seen such a cozener on earth among gods or humans. Having stolen my cows from a meadow, he drove them at dusk along the beaches of the loud-roaring sea straight toward Pylos. There were two sets of tracks — extraordinary — something to be wondered at — the work of a marvelous daimon. The black dust showed the hoof prints of the cows, but heading back toward that flowering meadow, while he himself — astonishing fellow — seemed to have crossed the sand off the path by means of neither hands nor feet but furnished with some other contrivance — and this is the wonder of wonders — as if he'd trudged along mounted on oak trees! Now, as long as he traveled along sandy places, all the tracks appeared quite readily in the dirt, but once he passed beyond the great stretch of sand, the tracks of the cows and his own footprints in the harder terrain became indiscernible; though a mortal man discerned him driving the wide-browed cows in the direction of Pylos. And as soon as he'd bedded down the herd in stillness there, he contrived a cunning, untraceable itinerary homeward. Once home, he climbed into his cradle under cover of black night in the gloomy cave, so that not even an eagle, keenly gazing, could have spotted him. He kept rubbing his eyes with his fingers as he prepared his feast of falsehoods and, without further ado, let loose this proclamation: 'I have not seen, I have not ascertained, I haven't heard from another, and thus I can't inform you, a thing about them, nor claim a reward for doing so.'" When all this had been spoken, Phoibos Apollo sat down, but Hermes had something to say and pointed his finger at Kronion Zeus, commander of the gods. "Father Zeus, I'll speak to you without concealing anything, for I am truthful and do not think to make lies. He came to us looking for his slow-footed cows on a new day as the sun was urging its own arising. He introduced no witnesses from among the blessèd gods, who had seen the business but, declaring his outrage, gave me orders, with a threat of great constraint, that he'd throw me into broad Tartaros, which he well can do, since he is in the flower of young manhood, but I came into being only yesterday — he knows this very well — I am no cattle rustler — no manner of muscle man — just look at me. Believe me — for you're supposed to be my father — that I did not drive the cattle to my home (may I grow wealthy). I crossed no threshold (I state this precisely). I revere Helios particularly, and all the other gods. I love you, and I dread him. You yourself are cognizant that I am not the cause — I'll swear a great oath — or better — by these well-decked porches of the immortals, the day will come when I'll repay this god though he be stronger than I am. In the meantime, you ought to help me because I am the younger." Thus spake the slayer of Argus from Kyllene, while slyly glancing about and retaining his infant's blankets on his arm — he hadn't got rid of them. Zeus laughed out loud to observe how effectively his wily-mind offspring denied all culpability regarding the cows, but he commanded the pair of them to seek accord and together to find the animals, directing Hermes to put aside his flummery and lead the expedition and show the place where he'd hidden the strong cattle. The Son of Kronos nodded and Hermes concurred, for the mind of Zeus aegis-holder easily prevails. The two fair offspring of Zeus took off for sandy Pylos and reached the crossing of the Alphaeus coming to those fields and high-roofed stables where strange beasts are cared for by night. Now as Hermes went into the cave to drive the strong cows into the light, the Son of Leto, looking aside, spotted the cow-hides stretched on the steep rock and put it to Hermes: "How were you able, you subtle knave, being but a neonate, to skin two cows? I myself am terrified at the strength that eventually will belong to you. No need for you to grow any further at all, O Kyllenian, Son of Maia." So he spoke, and twisted pliant withies with his fingers. 'Twas Apollo's intent to trap Hermes in a snare, but the twigs refused to ensnare him — they fell off and landed far away, and from the spot where they landed, sprang up new intertwining with one another entangling instead of Hermes, the rambling cows, according to Hermes' intent. And Apollo marveled as he watched it. Then Strong Argeiphontes examined the locality with a furtive flash in his eyes and grew sure that he'd be able to mollify the worthy Son of Leto, though the latter was ever the stronger. He set his lyre on his left arm. He tried each string with the plectrum. It sounded just fantastic under his fingers, and Phoibos Apollo laughed for joy. The lovely sound of the lyre ravished his heart with ineffable music. As he listened, sweet longing arose in his soul. Then the son of Maia, playing sweetly on his instrument made bold to stand at the left of Phoibos Apollo and started to sing — and the voice that came out was a good voice, singing of th'immortal gods, how they came into being, how each was allotted its portion. First among the deities he honored in song Mnemosyne, the Mother of the Muses, for the Son of Maia was of her lineage. Then, according to their ages, the rest of the gods, how each came into being, striking the lyre on his arm. But in his heart an unappeasable longing overcame Apollo and he gave voice to winged words: "Slayer of Oxen, Trickster, ever at your work, feast companion, your music is worth the price of fifty cows, therefore I think our litigation should be settled peacefully. Do tell me, though, O ever-resourceful Son of Zeus and Maia, did this magical activity of yours belong to you from birth, or did some god or human bestow so wonderfully worthy a gift upon you imparting god-like song, for marvelous is this newly-manifested sonic phenomenon I hear which, I say, no mortal or immortal has ever experienced before, except for you, O Felon, Son of Maia. What skill is this? What cure for incurable cares? What sort of practice? For particularly there are implicit in this music three things from which to choose: good cheer, good sex, sweet slumber. I myself am partial to the Olympian Muses — music for choral dancing, brilliant song, flourishing sounds, and the resounding thrill of flutes. But I've never been moved by the spectacular agilities of performers at young people's parties as I have by this music now. I marvel, Son of Zeus, at your lovely playing. Though you are but a little one, you know such glorious skill. So come, dear fellow, and respect the word of your elders, for you'll be renowned among th'immortal gods both you and your mother. By this javelin of cornel wood, I'll make you a leader fortunate and famous among the gods, and give you bright gifts and not deceive you ever. " Hermes responded to Apollo still with cunning discourse: "You question me, O One-Who-Acts-From-A-Distance, circumspectly, but I do not in any way deny you access to my art. Indeed, I wish to be compliant in thought and word. You already know all things very well in your heart, for you are situated first among the immortals, noble and strong. Wise Zeus appropriately loves you, has given you bright gifts. They say that from his words, O Distant-Doer, you have learned the prerogatives of the deities and Zeus's oracles to boot; and indeed the entirety of his divine pronunciamentos. I myself have gleaned that you've acquired great wealth in such matters. So you can learn what you choose, whatever you long for. Since apparently your heart is set on the lyre, go ahead — sing! play on it! Receive it as a gift from me! Strike up the splendor! (But remember, to give proper credit for it to me.) Sing well while holding this clear-voiced friend in your hands -- you are already quite capable of uttering all that is beautiful and well-composed in words. Hereafter, with confidence, take it to young people's parties, to splendid revels, to lovely choral dances, spreading joy by night and day. Whomever dexterously inquires with art and wisdom of it, it will instruct with its utterance in all manner of things delightful to the mind. It is easily played, with gentle familiarities, but it flees the miseries of technical toil. Whoever inquires of it, however, in artless fury, will find it to respond with lofty sounding airy fluctuations, vain expressions, and just plain wrong notes. But you can learn what you choose, whatever you long for, so I will give you this lyre, O Son of Zeus, and I, for my part, will go out and work in the pasture with wild-ranging cattle on hills or horse-fostering meadows. There the cows and bulls will bring forth promiscuously, abundantly, females and males, nor will it be necessary for you to hold onto your anger." So speaking, he held out the lyre and Phoebus Apollo took it and freely gave the shining whip to Hermes in exchange and dubbed him a herdsman. The Son of Maia happily accepted it. And now the Son of Leto, Lord Apollo Who Shoots from Afar, setting the lyre on his left arm, tried each string with the pick and it sounded just fantastic under his fingers and the god sang very beautifully to its notes. Then the two comely offspring of Zeus returned the cattle to the sacred meadow, and they themselves hastened to the snowy peaks of Olympos taking pleasure in the lyre as they sped. Wise Zeus rejoiced and joined the two in friendship, and Hermes loved the Son of Leto always and does so even now having given the lyre as token of friendship to the Far-Darter who, setting it on his arm, plays it quite well. Then Hermes himself invented another art — he made the syrinx — that is, the panpipes whose sound can be heard from afar. But the Son of Leto said this to Hermes: "I fear, O Son of Maia, you conductor, many-minded — that you might steal the lyre back from me and take my curved bow as well. Remember that you've an assignment from Zeus to establish the practice of exchange among humans down on earth that nourishes many. And if you take it upon yourself to swear a great oath of the gods on implacable Stygian waters or just by nodding your head, you would be doing all that you can to please me and ease my heart." Then the Son of Maia nodded his head and took it upon himself never to burglarize anything belonging to The One Who Shoots From Afar and never to terrorize his shrewdly guarded domicile. And Apollo Son of Leto nodded in return that he'd never be a better friend to another among the immortals or god sprung from Zeus or human either. To seal the oaths, the Father sent out an eagle as an omen and Apollo also swore : "I will make of you a symbol before all th'immortals of the trust and honor in my heart. Moreover, I shall give you a beautiful wand-stick, tri-leaved and golden, appertaining to boundless happiness and riches, and to keep you inured against destiny. It will achieve for you every accomplishment of words and worthy acts such as I say that I've learned directly from the utterances of Zeus. But as for prophecy itself, about which you ask, though you are sprung from the divine, it is not licit that you make inquiry into it — nor any of the other gods either — for only the mind of Zeus knows that. And I myself have sworn a mighty oath that apart from me not any of the gods whose coming into being is forever should know the wise-minded counsels of Father Zeus. And you, my brother, of The Golden Wand-Stick, do not demand that I declare the oracles Wide-Watching Zeus devises. And as regards the humans: I'll do mischief to one and profit another utterly twisting the minds of that unenviable species. But whoever comes to me guided by the call and flight of proper omen birds, shall enjoy my prophetic utterance and I'll not deceive them. But whoever, trusting idly twittering birds inquires of my art against my own intent or whoever seeks to know more than the gods know — I say that they shall have an errant journey— though when they make their offerings, I'll still take the money! But let me tell you another thing, Illustrious Son of Maia and of Zeus Aegis-holder, messenger, quick-as-death, daimon of the gods: There exist three holy sisters, three virgins who exult in their swift wings. On their heads is a dust of white meal. They dwell in houses under a ridge of Parnassus — teachers of divination, independent of myself. When I was a herds-lad, I practiced their art though my father considered it not worth his attention. From their station they flit about, hither and yon, feeding on honeycombs, bringing each thing to pass. Eating yellow honey stimulates them so that when they consume it they wish to speak the truth; but withhold from them this sweet food of the gods, and when they swarm together like raging maenads they utter falsehoods only. So I commend them to you. Make particular inquiry of them to your heart's delight, and if you teach their art to some mortal person, your pupil will hear in their sound, for the most part, your response as fortune falls out." So he spoke, and, from heaven, Father Zeus himself sealed the intent with his words and consigned to Hermes command over birds of omen, glad-eyed lions, white-tusked wild pigs, dogs, sheep, and all the flocking beasts that the broad earth nourishes. And he commanded that only Hermes should be appointed messenger to Hades, who, though he takes no tribute, will still give a boon not to be sniffed at. Thus Lord Apollo favored the Son of Maia with every token of friendship, and the Kronion added graciousness besides. Hermes is ever at hand for mortals and immortals, taking but scant profit, though still he is the cozener who cons throughout the night the species of mortal persons without prejudice as to his target. And so to you, this is farewell, O Son of Zeus and Maia, but I will be mindful of you and make another song as well.