Pillars like the Hermae, called Hecataea, stood, especially in Athens, at cross-roads and doorways, perhaps to keep away the spirits of evil.
They were associated with hallowed trees, with sacred stones and pillars, out of which came the square rough-hewn Hermae which were anointed with oil like the sacred stone attributed by legend to Jacob at Bethel.
The oldest form under which Hermes was represented was that of the Hermae mentioned above.
But side by side with the Hermae there grew up a more anthropomorphic conception of the god.
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