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But while he was singing of all these, his heart was bent on other matters. And he took the hollow lyre and laid it in his sacred cradle, [65] and sprang from the sweet-smelling hall to a watch-place, pondering sheer trickery in his heart —deeds such as knavish folk pursue in the dark night-time; for he longed to taste flesh.

The Sun was going down beneath the earth towards Ocean with his horses and chariot when Hermes [70] came hurrying to the shadowy mountains of Pieria, where the divine cattle of the blessed gods had their steads and grazed the pleasant, unmown meadows. Of these the Son of Maia, the sharp-eyed slayer of Argus then cut off from the herd fifty loud-lowing kine, [75] and drove them straggling-wise across a sandy place, turning their hoof-prints aside. Also, he bethought him of a crafty ruse and reversed the marks of their hoofs, making the front behind and the hind before, while he himself walked the other way.1 Then he wove sandals with wicker-work by the sand of the sea, [80] wonderful things, unthought of, unimagined; for he mixed together tamarisk and myrtle-twigs, fastening together an armful of their fresh, young wood, and tied them, leaves and all securely under his feet as light sandals. That brushwood the glorious Slayer of Argus [85] plucked in Pieria as he was preparing for his journey, making shift2 as one making haste for a long journey.

But an old man tilling his flowering vineyard saw him as he was hurrying down the plain through grassy Onchestus. So the Son of Maia began and said to him:

[90] “Old man, digging about your vines with bowed shoulders, surely you shall have much wine when all these bear fruit, [91a] if you obey me and strictly remember not to have seen what you have seen, and not to have heard what you have heard, and to keep silent when nothing of your own is harmed.”

1 Hermes makes the cattle walk backwards way, so that they seem to be going towards the meadow instead of leaving it (cp. 1. 345); he himself walks in the normal manner, relying on his sandals as a disguise.

2 Such seems to be the meaning indicated by the context, though the verb is taken by Allen and Sikes to mean, “to be like oneself,” and so “to be original.”

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    • Thomas W. Allen, E. E. Sikes, Commentary on the Homeric Hymns, HYMN TO HERMES
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