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keryx

inviolable ancient Greek messenger. In Homer's time, the keryx was simply a trusted attendant or retainer of a chieftain. The role of kerykes expanded, however, to include acting as inviolable messengers between states, even in time of war, proclaiming meetings of the council, popular assembly, or court of law, reciting there the formulas of prayer, and summoning persons to attend. Hermes, himself the keryx of the gods, was their patron and carried the caduceus, the herald's staff. The word also often simply meant a crier. A clan of kerykes had certain duties in connection with the Eleusinian Mysteries.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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