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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Hermes \Her"mes\, n. [L., fr. Gr. ?.]

  1. (Myth.) See Mercury.

    Note: Hermes Trismegistus [Gr. 'Ermh^s trisme`gistos, lit., Hermes thrice greatest] was a late name of Hermes, especially as identified with the Egyptian god Thoth. He was the fabled inventor of astrology and alchemy.

  2. (Arch[ae]ology) Originally, a boundary stone dedicated to Hermes as the god of boundaries, and therefore bearing in some cases a head, or head and shoulders, placed upon a quadrangular pillar whose height is that of the body belonging to the head, sometimes having feet or other parts of the body sculptured upon it. These figures, though often representing Hermes, were used for other divinities, and even, in later times, for portraits of human beings. Called also herma. See Terminal statue, under Terminal.


n. A herm


A herma (, pl. hermai), commonly in English herm, is a sculpture with a head, and perhaps a torso, above a plain, usually squared lower section, on which male genitals may also be carved at the appropriate height. The form originated in Ancient Greece, and was adopted by the Romans, and revived at the Renaissance in the form of term figures and Atlantes.

Herma (Xenakis)

Herma (from Greek ἕρμα "a stringing together, a foundation") is a piece for solo piano composed by Iannis Xenakis in 1961. It is based on a formulation of the algebraic equations of Boolean algebra, and is also an example of what Xenakis called symbolic music.

Herma was the composer's first major work for piano. It was composed after a visit to Japan in 1961, where Xenakis befriended pianist and composer Yuji Takahashi. Xenakis completed the piece upon his return to Paris and dedicated it to Takahashi, who premièred the piece on February 2, 1962. The pianist's impression of that concert was that the piece "made some excited and wonder, others feel painful" .

Boolean algebra is the main mathematical principle behind Herma . Xenakis defines several pitch sets and proceeds to apply various logical operations to them. The results are incorporated into music by using successions and combinations of various sets. Stochastic procedures are used to select the order and place of notes within each set .

The piece has been described by the pianist and critic Susan Bradshaw as "[deserving] the label of the most difficult piano piece ever written", because of its extreme tempo .

Usage examples of "herma".

And well, you will allow that me bleeding until dying, leaving that stupid herma    yours does not go in pos of Brita and begins a war?

For my grandmothers, Fay Dobrinin and Herma Little California felt a million miles away.

But Tell Sukhas was not the sort of world whose oligarchs sent warships to Solitude Hermae on good-will journeys.

The narrow cabin, unused since the first flight to Solitude Hermae, was chill and oddly musty.

But then, this was Solitude Hermae, and the magi looked after their own.

But Solitude Hermae, with neither sun nor sister worlds to modulate the music of its core, was setting up a greater interference than he had expected.

Thanks to the accelerated study on Solitudo Hermae, the Hegemonic script no longer looked peculiar to her, but the titles were old-fashioned enough to make her hesitate, mentally shifting from one alphabet to the more familiar coine characters, before she was certain she understood them: The Art of Courtly Behavior, Recollections of a Long Life, Regulations of the Royal House, The Register of the Thousand, and the even larger Register of the Ten Thousand.

Solitudo Hermae, all boiled down into a promise that could mean everything, or nothing at all.

Solitude Hermae had stressed was the technique of ordering information.

She had learned the theory, at least, on Solitudo Hermae, but the practice was a different matter.

Solitude Hermae had made her adept at deciphering unfamiliar symbolic systems.

She felt the barrier close in around her, the air taking on the faintly lifeless quality that she associated with the isolation rings on Solitude Hermae, where she had first learned the Art.

Of course the magi who defined the voidmarks for transition to Solitudo Hermae would use the opportunity to expound a section of their Art.

Revealing formal gardens with stone hermae, geysering fountains, lamps, a marble wellhead, terra-cotta jars tall as a man, and statues of sylphs and mythical animals so lifelike that they almost seemed to move through the boughs and terraced pathways.

Agora and temples, commencing from the Hermae, and pay honour to the sacred beings, each in turn, whose shrines and statues are there congregated.