Monday, May 15th, 2017

Short Story Contest: Hermes the Babbler

This contest is closed. Thanks to everyone who entered! Check back on September 10 to see the winner, and be sure to enter the current contest, The Arachne Contest.

If we’re all one then why are we all divided?


The Contest: Write a story of 5,000 words or less about the myth below.

Deadline: August 30 by midnight

Entry Fee: FREE!

Prize: $300


All over the world, indigenous and ancient civilizations have stories of a golden age when human kind lived as one. They shared a community, lived in harmony, and all spoke the same language.

Then something happened.

Sometimes this big event was a feast, where people ate different things, and they changed. Sometimes, a god got angry at them and decided to separate them. Many times, the event was a flood.

Whatever the big event was, the end result was that the people all wound up speaking different languages. It’s the Tower of Babel effect.

In Greek myth, Hermes is responsible for the confusion of tongues.

Basically, everyone in Ancient Greece lived in this utopia of togetherness under the smiling gaze of Zeus. They all spoke the same language, which they had been taught by the twin gods of ingenuity—brother and sister Philarios and Philarion.

They didn’t even need laws, because nobody ever fought. (Along with the “speaking the same language” thing came an open sense of understanding and connection. Nobody argued because miscommunication didn’t happen. Nobody had different agendas because everyone was One.) Everything was great there.

Then Hermes came along.

He was like, “Check this out, guys.” And he proceeded to “teach” the people a whole bunch of different languages, dividing the nations.

Then miscommunication began to occur, followed by conflict . . . and the gaze of Zeus was no longer so smiling. Presumably the need for laws arose next.

This is how Hermes came to be called “The Interpreter.” (I like “babbler” better though . . .)


The Contest: Write a story of 5,000 words or less about the myth.

Deadline: August 30 by midnight

Entry Fee: FREE!

Prize: $300

I’ll judge entries based on:

— Word count. Please stick to 5,000 words or less. It can be much less, if you want. (I only have so much time to read entries, and it would be a shame to toss yours out because it’s too long!)

— Writing prowess. You don’t have to have the gift all tongues, but do give it your best shot. An understanding of how to structure a story, how to use dialogue, and all that jazz will work in your favor. (Spelling, grammar, and typos count.)

— An understanding of the Hermes archetype and the myth itself.

Send your entry to my email: Please paste your entry in the body of your email, since I won’t open attachments. The subject line should be “The Babbler Contest.” Please write your entry in English and in prose. You can email me any questions at the same address. I’ll have a winner by September 10. Subscribe to Mythraeum to see the winner.

Have questions? See if your answers are in the Writers FAQ.


You can use some of these ideas in your story, or none of them. Your Hermes can be a mythical god and Trickster, a newspaper boy, or a malfunctioning software program. Your story doesn’t have to be set in Ancient Greece (but it can be). You can set it in modern times or on a spaceship. Turn it into a Western or steampunk, or even do the Jane Austen version.

You don’t have to tell the whole story. You can write a quick vignette, or get as sweeping and epic as you can in 5,000 words. You can focus on Hermes, or Zeus, or the poor sods who wind up speaking babel to one another. Be creative!

Good luck arche-typers!


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