Marble herm

Period: Early or Mid Imperial

Date: 1st or 2nd century A.D.

Culture: Roman

Medium: Marble

Dimensions: Overall: 19 3/4 x 12 3/4 x 12 in. (50.2 x 32.4 x 30.5 cm)

Classification: Stone Sculpture

Credit Line: Gift of Mrs. Frederick F. Thompson, 1903

Accession Number: 03.12.4


The messenger god Hermes was closely associated with boundaries, and his protective image in the form of a herm was placed at doorways and at strategic points along a roadside. Here, the god has a Classical face with modeled cheeks and sharply lidded eyes framed by Archaic spiral curls over his forehead. Possibly, this representation was modeled after the late fifth-century B.C. Hermes Propylaios that was seen by Pausanias on the Athenian Akropolis. Most herms, like this one, are represented in retrospective style, appropriately so for an image that needed to remain steadfast in order to function properly.