In Greek religion, a sacred stone object connected with the worship of Hermes. Herms were used as cult objects, for milestones, and for boundary markers. In time, these stones were replaced by pillars topped with a likeness of the head of Hermes or by statues of the god. In Roman sculpture the heads of Jupiter or the forest god Silvanus were often substituted.
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In 415 BC, on the night before the Athenian fleet was about to set sail for Syracuse during the Peloponnesian War (see Sicilian Expedition), all of the Athenian hermai were vandalized. This was a horribly impious act and many people believed it threatened the success of the expedition. Though it was never proven, the Athenians at the time believed it was the work of saboteurs, either from Syracuse or anti-war doves from Athens itself. In fact, Alcibiades was accused of being the originator of the crime. He denied the accusations and offered to stand trial, but the Athenians did not want to disrupt the expedition any further. His opponents were eager to have Alcibiades' trial in his absence when he could not defend himself. Once he had left on the expedition, his political enemies had him charged and sentenced to death in absentia, both for the mutilation of the herms, and the supposedly related crime of profaning the Eleusinian Mysteries.