Hermes—messenger of the gods, the cattle rustler, the inventor of the lyre, the guider of souls across the River Styx, the manly god of boundaries—stands gracefully here rather than moving purposefully. He likely originally held his kerykeion (herald's staff) in his left hand. A pair of wings are strapped to his feet, and the small rectangular cuttings at the top of his head once held wings that sprang from his laurel-crown. The eyes, once inlaid with silver, glass paste, or stone, would have added vitality to the figure.
The lack of interest in the specific delineation of the anatomy and the listless elegance of the pose attest to the decorative quality of this highly refined bronze. It is a sophisticated work, executed in a mannered, classicizing style that sets the god apart from the mundane world of the statuette's human owner and invites contemplation of the divine.
Mertens, Joan R. 1985. "Greek Bronzes in the Metropolitan Museum of Art." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, 43(2): no. 43, pp. 11, 64-5.
Höckmann, Ursula. 1994. "Die Hermesstatuette." Das Wrack: Der antike Schiffsfund von Mahdia, Vol. 1, Gisela Hellenkemper Salies, Hans-Hoyer von Prittwitz und Gaffron, and Gerhard Bauchhenß, eds. p. 474 n. 41, Cologne: Rheinland-Verlag GmbH.
Picón, Carlos A. 2007. Art of the Classical World in the Metropolitan Museum of Art: Greece, Cyprus, Etruria, Rome no. 251, pp. 215, 454, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.