Messengers, watchers, spooks: Lucas North and Hermes

I was thinking about how I might connect Richard Armitage’s portrayal of MI-5 agent Lucas North to the pantheon of Greek gods.  I did a little Lucas North word association and one deity in particular came to mind.  I had just started a web search and lo and behold, I came across this…

What the heck…I’ll give it a try.  I answered the questions for myself and the quiz generated a response of Thetis – Sea nymph, daughter of Nereus, shape shifter, mother of Achilles – OK, I’ll take that.  I already had an inkling of what would happen if I answered the questions “as” Lucas North, and sure enough, the quiz generated this result:

As I suspected...

As I suspected…

Hermes was a second generation Olympian god – the son of Zeus and yet another of his extramarital affairs.  This time Zeus carried out a stealth courtship of Maia, the daughter of the Titan Atlas (of holding up the earth on his shoulders fame).  The Homeric Hymn to Hermes has this to say about the affair:

Muse, sing of Hermes, the son of Zeus and Maia, lord of Cyllene and Arcadia rich in flocks, the luck-bringing messenger of the immortals whom Maia bare, the rich-tressed nymph, when she was joined in love with Zeus,     [5]   —a shy goddess, for she avoided the company of the blessed gods, and lived within a deep, shady cave. There the son of Cronos used to lie with the rich-tressed nymph, unseen by deathless gods and mortal men, at dead of night while sweet sleep should hold white-armed Hera fast.  (Source:

The bolded section tells us the principal occupation of Hermes among the other Olympians…he was the messenger.  As such, he’s often seen wearing a winged hat or sandals and described as “fleet footed” or some other such epithet.

The FTD Floral logo makes much more sense now...

The FTD Floral logo makes much more sense now…

In addition to his duties as messenger, usually flitting about on some or another errand for Zeus, Hermes also had a reputation for being clever and sly, a trickster from birth…rather like the Norse Loki in that respect.

Ooops, sorry!  Got distracted for a minute there... Source:

Ooops, sorry! Got distracted for a minute there…

Where was I?  Loki…tricksters…Hermes – Right!  So Hermes was a sneaky little deity from the cradle.  One of his most memorable myths happens when he was only hours old and snuck away from his mother to steal the cattle sacred to his elder half brother, the mighty Apollo.

Baby Hermes and the Cattle of Apollo Source:

Baby Hermes being chastised by his mother for stealing his brother’s toys. “Who? Me?”

In addition to being the furtive messenger of the gods, Hermes was also the patron deity of thieves and travelers – both groups who benefitted from an ability to come and go largely unseen.

We’ve also previously encountered Hermes in his role as psychopompos, or the leader of souls as they cross between the world of the living and that of the dead.  He is one of the few Greek deities who frequently acts on behalf of humankind in the regular course of his activities, not simply because it suited his purposes in the moment.

Hermes is a bit of an enigma…he belongs to the Olympian pantheon, yet he often seems to exist on the fringe of it, in fact he is strongly associated with the concept of boundaries and transitions.  To skirt the boundary between worlds, his cunning and alacrity served him well.

Lucas North is arguably the most enigmatic of the characters that Richard Armitage has inhabited to date.  It’s probably the reason I haven’t touched on him yet – he is so many different things at one time, he’s hard to classify.  Many people have discussed the complexities of this character and Richard Armitage’s portrayal of him, but every time I think I have a handle on him, I see something new.

The similarities between Lucas and Hermes are numerous…both are messengers, whether literal, who can forget Lucas as the leather clad messenger in Spooks 8.5?

What the man does with gloves... Source: Spooks 8.5 (Servetus' cap)

What the man does with gloves…
Source: Spooks 8.5 (Servetus’ cap)

Or figurative…Lucas’ whole existence as an operative makes him a messenger of something to someone, somewhere at sometime.

The sly, covert nature of Lucas’ job is a clear source of comparison, but so is the fact that Lucas, like Hermes has a foot in two worlds.  He is constantly making adjustments to fit in better here or there.

Lucas explains his tattoos to Harry in Spooks 7.1 Source: (my crop)

Lucas explains his tattoos to Harry in Spooks 7.1
Source: (my crop)

It’s not only the demands of his profession, but the splinters within him that keep Lucas from fully being part of any one world, but rather ever hovering along the edges, never quite fitting in anywhere no matter how he tries.

Lucas North, always on the fringe... Source: (my crop)

Lucas North, always on the fringe…
Source: (my crop)

At least Hermes had the winged sandals to make his hovering a bit easier.

32 comments on “Messengers, watchers, spooks: Lucas North and Hermes

  1. Perry says:

    Fun. I’m a little surprised that Lucas came up as Hermes, though I guess the deeper analysis, more than simply the messenger, trickster, fleet footed, has something to with that. I don’t think of Lucas as fleet footed. Oddly and delightfully, I am most like Demeter.

  2. You’ve combined one of my earliest passions — Greek mythology — with my most recent. I could kiss you.

  3. Twosocks says:

    Just started reading your blog. Took Latin in HS (and no, the general population was not still speaking it at the time, although we were in church). Tried the quiz, and came up with the same results as you got. Maybe Thetis is popular. Was Hermes also the god of crossroads, where people left caerens (sp?), or do I have him mixed up with someone else? Love the fact that so many cultures have tricksters in their pantheons. You have to have someone to blame when things don’t go quite as planned.

    • obscura says:

      Welcome, and thanks for commenting! You are correct, there is worship of Hermes associated with crossroads and marking yhem with cairns…evidently, crossroads were pretty dicey since there are several deities assiciated with them.

      That isa very good point about mythological tricksters!

  4. guylty says:

    Oh come on. You just wanted a reason to post that shirtless image of Lucas. Ha!
    Just kidding. Funny – Hermes was exactly what I thought Lucas would come up as when I started reading your intro. That whole “traveller between two worlds” thing, the fleeting, shadowy existence of the spy, the literal carrying of messages. It all fits. Plus, a little instruction from my in-house mythology expert (the daughter), recently. Nice of you to fit a bit of Loki in, too. Any memorable flings of Hermes, by the way? Just wondering.

  5. Marie Astra says:

    LOL I am Aphrodite too, guylty! Lucas as Hermes? I always think of Hermes as short for some reason. Not Lucas. But why not?? Thanks for the fun quiz, O.!

  6. Leigh says:

    I think the quiz caught Lucas as Hermes correctly. The whole thing about secrets and messages, being swift and sneaky, never eally fitting in, and having his own motives which we are not allowed to know — it all fits. Me? I am 100% Persephone. Never could resist those pomegranate seeds…

    • obscura says:

      Ahh, forbidden fruit comes in many forms. 🙂 Hermes is one of thise sneaky powerful deities…he’s not so “in your face” as Apollo and Zeus, but important nonetheless.

  7. i.f. says:

    100% Arthemis. Is that good?

    Mr. North is one of my favorite characters by the elusive Mr. A. As far as I know there is some kind of connection between Hermes and air – and therefore a perfect match for a Gemini like me. Yes, makes perfect sense to me.
    Deity of travellers? Well, makes even more sense to me.

    • obscura says:

      Depends…Artemis is the goddess of the hunt, and also associated with the moon…her acolytes are usually virginal girls (especially as they are about to make the transition to womanhood. Interesting that you’re a Gemini…so is Artemis in the sense that she is the elder tin of Apollo. The only downside with Artemis is that she has a tendency to be a tad -er- prickly (?) about men who are carried away by her beauty and thus threaten her chastity. (She’s more than capable of defending her chastity btw 🙂

      I don’t know of the air association specifically, but it would make sense given that he regularly travels between Olympus (among the clouds) and earth.

      • i.f. says:

        Hunting? Too exhausting for me lazy bugger. But moon? Well, moonstruck fits.
        Carried away by her beauty and threaten her chastity? Ermmm, my chastity had not been threatend since 15 years or so. Might very well be because I have a steadfast reputation as a nagging b*tch.

  8. Servetus says:

    For various reasons I still like Lucas as Achilles, but I realize Achilles wasn’t a god. This is intriguing nonetheless.

  9. katie70 says:

    Just did the Which Goddess are you like and who is Iris? It says that that is who I am most like. I am happy to say that Persephone was number three, with Demeter number two.

    Never thought about which god Lucas is most like before and I am not sure.

    • obscura says:

      Iris was the female counterpart to Hermes, and also the personification of the rainbow.

      I think a case could be made connecting the qualities of a number of gods with Lucas.

  10. […] Armitage characterizations to those of the male Olympian deities….Ares, Hades, Poseidon, Hermes, Dionysus, Apollo, Apollo, Apollo…as well as a few heroes and demigods along the way.  There […]

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