In this, as in other mythological stories, we must not suppose that the idea is based on a fact, but the idea gave rise to the tale, and thus received, as it were, a concrete body.
-Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, Theoi.com (entry on Hermaphroditos)
I find this quote fascinating, not only because Hermaphroditos is a fascinating and complex god, but also because it seems a loose thread to pull in the tangled knot of the big, big question: How does a god become a god?
It is food for thought: Are we god-creators? Have we, by our ideas through tales becoming concrete bodies, given them their forms? Has their evolution from primordial Truth been tandem to ours, or even tied to it as we are to theirs? Are gods static or dynamic?
We know human conceptions of a god’s purview change over time, but could this be indicative of an actual change in the god? Did Hermes, for example, in his youth hold dominion mostly over flocks, herds, fertility, and boundaries, but as he grew and developed into maturity, add to that dominion the finer points of language, writing, astronomy, mathematics, gymnastics, etc., just as the people over whom he is a god, also developed in these areas?
I am a dyed-in-wool hard polytheist who is deeply enthralled by what I call the “logistics of godhood”. These questions are my meat and my milk.
Oh, the mind-churning pleasure!
-winks and exits dramatically stage left-