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Hermes is often described as a trickster figure. William J. Hynes and William G. Doty in their Mythical Trickster Figures: Contours, Contexts, and Criticisms (1997) established five criteria for a trickster.

1. Tricksters are known for their–often crude–mockery of social, religious, political, or moral laws, institutions, or authorities.

2. Tricksters overturn and disrupt any situation they enter into to their benefit and sometimes to their detriment by means of their tricks, antics, and deceptions.

3. Tricksters have the ability to change their bodily form, which often is animal or animal-like, phallic, and male. (Most tricksters are male, though female tricksters do exist in some mythic traditions)

4. Tricksters’ creativity and boundless energy allow them to invent objects or stories to serve their ends.

5. Tricksters are often classified as “culture heroes” because they frequently give their inventions to humans who previously did not have them.

— Consider these criteria. How many does Hermes meet, and how does he meet them? As an additional discussion, do you know of other tricksters or trickster-like characters in myths, stories, films, novels, or comics? If so, who are they, and how are they like or not like Hermes?

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