This work depicts a tale from Ovid?s Metamorphoses, in which Hermes (the Greek god of shepherds and cowherds) stole a herd of cattle from his brother Apollo and hid them in a cave. The only witness was the old man Battus, who swore secrecy to Hermes. But the suspicious Hermes returned in disguise, and bribed the old man into revealing the herd?s location. Battus told the `stranger? immediately, and as punishment for his dishonesty, Hermes turned the old man into a rock. In the foreground of the painting, Hermes talks to old Battus. Hermes is disguised as a shepherd, but Pynas included his winged hat and shoes to make him identifiable to the viewer. The large stone statue of an old man in the background undoubtedly refers to Battus?s fate.