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herm

herm (hûrm) [key], in 6th-century Greek art, vertical pillar surmounted by a bearded human head and often having a phallus below. These structures were considered sacred to Hermes. They were placed on street corners in Athens and used outside the city as milestones. By the end of the Hellenistic era the form was employed for portraiture.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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