Vulcan and Maia, Bartholomeus Spranger

Maia (Μαία), in Greek mythology, is the eldest of the Pleiades, the seven daughters of Atlas and Pleione. She and her sisters, born on Mount Cyllene in Arcadia, are sometimes called mountain goddesses. Maia was the oldest, most beautiful and shyest.

In a cave of Cyllene Maia became by Zeus the mother of the god Hermes. The story is told in the Homeric Hymn to Hermes.

After giving birth to the baby, Maia wrapped him in blankets and went to sleep. The rapidly-maturing infant Hermes crawled away to Thessaly, where by nightfall of his first day he stole some of Apollo's cattle and invented a lyre. Maia refused to believe Apollo when he claimed Hermes was the thief and Zeus then sided with Apollo. Finally, Apollo exchanged the cattle for the lyre.

Hermes carrying the infant Arcas, who was raised by Maia

God council in Olympus: Hermes with his mother Maia.

Maia also raised the infant Arcas to protect him from Hera, who had turned his mother, Callisto into a bear.

Vulcan & Maia, 1590,Bartholomeus Spranger (Flemish, 1546-1611) Art History Museum, Vienna

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