The oldest form under which Hermes was represented was that of the Hermae mentioned above.
But side by side with the Hermae there grew up a more anthropomorphic conception of the god.
This Cyprian Aphrodite is the same as the later Hermaphroditos, which simply means Aphroditos in the form of a herm (see Hermae), and first occurs in the Characteres (16) of Theophrastus.
They were associated with hallowed trees, with sacred stones and pillars, out of which came the square rough-hewn Hermae which were anointed with oil like the sacred stone attributed by legend to Jacob at Bethel.
Pillars like the Hermae, called Hecataea, stood, especially in Athens, at cross-roads and doorways, perhaps to keep away the spirits of evil.