Season: 4-6, Episodes: 35, Faction: DHARMA Initiative/Freighter/Survivors
Miles Straume was a spiritualist who was born in May 1977 to Lara and Pierre Chang. At the age of four months, Miles was taken to California by his mother, forced to leave the Island in a general evacuation ordered by Dr. Chang in anticipation of the Incident. As he grew up, Miles discovered he had a unique ability to extract information from deceased bodies through what he called a “feeling”.
Many years later, Miles was recruited by Naomi Dorrit to join a science team that arrived on the Island aboard the freighter Kahana. He parachuted onto the Island, and was met by the survivors of Flight 815, who at first didn’t trust him or the rest of the science team. Miles’s mission on the Island was to capture Benjamin Linus, but he later offered to tell his employer that Ben was dead in exchange for $3.2 million (double what Widmore offered him). As the survivors made their plan to escape the Island on the Kahana, Miles informed fellow science team member Daniel Faraday that he was planning on staying.
When Ben moved the Island, Miles and his fellow castaways skipped through time, at one point coming to be held captive by Richard Alpert in 1954, and finally ending up in the 1970s. There, they joined the DHARMA Initiative, which put Miles in proximity with his late parents and, later, himself as a baby. After three years with the DHARMA Initiative, the Oceanic Six returned to the Island following the crash of Ajira Airways 316, and their cover was blown, whereupon Miles revealed his identity to his father. Miles assisted Jack with his plan to change the past, saving his father at the Swan construction site in the process.
After Juliet detonated a nuclear bomb, Miles time-traveled to his original timeline of 2007, having survived the blast. Miles stayed behind with Sawyer to help bury Juliet, whereupon he relayed her last thoughts to Sawyer: “It worked”. Later, Miles and Sawyer were abducted by the Others and taken to the Temple where they witnessed the miraculous healing of Sayid. When the Temple Massacre began, Miles and Kate eventually got split up and Miles barricaded himself in a room where he was then rescued by Ilana. Miles then read the ashes of Jacob and confirmed to Ilana that it was in fact Ben who killed him. The group, along with Frank and Sun, returned to the beach where Miles dug up the diamonds from the graves of Nikki and Paulo, and kept them. Later, Jack, Hurley and Richard came and joined their camp.
After Ilana’s death, Miles joined Ben and Richard on a mission to blow up the Ajira plane to prevent the Man in Black from leaving the Island. The group ventured to the Black Rock for more dynamite, where they witnessed Hurley blow it up. When the group reached the Barracks, their alternate source for explosives, they met Charles Widmore, who told them he had already sabotaged the plane. When the Man in Black arrived, following Widmore and Zoe, Miles fled into the jungle, where he found Richard unconscious from trying to reason with the black smoke. The two of them headed for Hydra Island to finish what they started, whereupon they found Frank floating in the ocean with the debris from the submarine explosion, and Frank suggested they use the plane to fly away so the Man in Black wouldn’t be able to escape. The three of them repaired Ajira Fight 316 and left the Island, along with Claire, Sawyer, and Kate.
In the flash sideways, Miles was an LAPD detective partnered with Sawyer. He never remembered his previous life or moved on.
On the Island (the DHARMA Initiative)
5×01 – Because You Left
Miles was born in March 1977 to Pierre Chang and his wife Lara of the DHARMA Initiative. It is unclear whether Miles was born on the Island or if he was brought there shortly after his birth. At their home at the Barracks, Lara and Pierre would often take turns with the baby Miles in the mornings when he cried, and Chang was known to read to his son at night. (“Because You Left”)
5×13 – Some Like It Hoth
At one point, Miles witnessed his father reading to his young self while in the DHARMA Initiative in 1977. (“Some Like It Hoth”)
5×15 – Follow the Leader
Four months after Miles was born, Pierre Chang organized the evacuation of all the DHARMA women and children from the Island, in preparation for the coming Incident by Daniel’s warning to Chang before Daniel was killed. Baby Miles and his mother were included in this evacuation. Miles left the Island on the submarine, on his father’s strict orders. (“Follow the Leader”)
After leaving the Island, Lara and Miles moved to Encino, California in the United States.
Off the Island (Youth)
5×13 – Some Like It Hoth
As a child, Miles accompanied his mother Lara as she inspected an apartment in Encino, California with the building’s landlord. The landlord at first objected to Miles because the neighbors disliked noise, but Lara assured him that Miles is quiet.
She gave Miles a quarter for the vending machine, but on the way there he sensed something, causing him to walk toward another apartment. Finding a key, he opened the door and walked inside. Several apartments down, Lara heard her son calling for her, and rushed to the apartment where she found him standing over a man’s corpse. Miles claimed to hear the corpse talking.
Several years later, a heavily pierced Miles visited his mother, who was extremely sick and bedridden, and was losing her hair. While his mother was happy to see him, she asked why he had come to visit, as he didn’t ever come to visit very often before, and he replied that he wanted answers about the source of his powers and about his father. She replied that his father kicked them out when Miles was just a baby, and had forced them to leave. She didn’t tell him explicitly about the DHARMA Initiative or the Island, but she told Miles that his father had been dead for a very long time and that his body was “somewhere [he] could never go.” (“Some Like It Hoth”)
6×17 – The End
At some point, Miles said that he worked as a mechanic. (“The End”)
4×02 – Confirmed Dead
At a later date Miles became a professional spiritualist, advertising his services to people who wished to communicate with the dead. Around the time that the supposed wreckage of Flight 815 was recovered, Miles was visiting the house of a woman named Mrs. Gardner in Inglewood, California. Her grandson had been murdered and she wanted his spirit exorcised from her house. Miles agreed to talk to the spirit for a fee, and after he was paid $200 in advance, he entered the boy’s former bedroom. There, using a ghostbuster device, he appeared to talk to the spirit, and through it located a stash of money and drugs which the boy had hidden in his room. He took the money and left the drugs.
He then went back to Mrs. Gardner, and refunded her $100. (“Confirmed Dead”)
5×13 – Some Like It Hoth
Some time later, Miles met with Howard Gray. Mr Gray hired Miles to contact his son, who died in a car accident. Miles’ job was to make sure that the son knew that Gray loved him. Miles was apprehensive when he discovered that the son had been cremated, and asked for a larger sum of money, which Gray readily offered. Miles then appeared to contact the spirit of the son and assured Gray that the son was aware of his love. (“Some Like It Hoth”)
4×02 – Confirmed Dead
When Naomi Dorrit and Matthew Abaddon discussed his recruitment, Naomi disparagingly referred to him as a “ghostbuster”. (“Confirmed Dead”)
5×13 – Some Like It Hoth
Naomi approached Miles outside Gray’s house and recruited him to work for Charles Widmore. After confirming his ability to gather information from a corpse, she told him that his services would be enlisted in locating a man on an island by communicating with the dead people who reside there. Miles was reluctant until Naomioffered him $1.6 million.
Later Miles was abducted off the street by a group of men in a van. Bram offered Miles information on his father’s whereabouts in exchange for not working for Charles Widmore. Miles insisted that he was no longer interested in his father and that they would have to pay him double to refuse Widmore’s offer, a sum of $3.2 million. Bram refused to pay him, saying, “All the money in the world isn’t going to fill that empty hole inside you.” Miles was taken aback at this statement, and his abductors tossed him from the van, warning that he was playing on “the wrong team.”
Just before leaving for the Kahana, Miles revisited Howard Gray and returned his money. Miles revealed that he had lied to Gray; he had been unable to make contact with Gray’s son. The incredulous Gray asked why Miles couldn’t have just continued the lie, and Miles responded that it wouldn’t have been fair to the son, and tells the father he should have professed his love to his son before his death. (“Some Like It Hoth”)
4×08 – Meet Kevin Johnson
Before the Kahana left port, Miles indicated that he knew Michael was using a false name without having previously met him. He then added that 80% of the people on the Kahana were lying about something. (“Meet Kevin Johnson”)
Back on the Island (Days 91-100)
4×02 – Confirmed Dead
Miles was one of the three passengers to parachute from a helicopter which had taken off from the Kahana. He appeared to have landed on a rocky outcrop near the north shore of the Island. As Jack, Kate and Daniel approached him, he pretended to be incapacitated, then threatened Jack with a handgun after Jack attempted to examine him. He then informed Daniel that it was the survivors that killed Naomi, and demanded to be taken to her body. During their journey to Naomi’s remains, he held Jack and Kate at gunpoint. When Naomi was found, Miles spoke in quiet tones over her body and afterwards confirmed Kate’s story about her death.
Soon after, he was informed by Jack that they were in fact covered by their friends with firearms. Miles was forced to drop his gun when Sayid and Juliet came out of the jungle firing their guns.
He behaved aggressively toward Sayid when he was questioned about who he was and what he did. Upon hearing from Frank that Juliet was a “native” of the Island, he became hostile and demanded to know where “he” was. Showing a photograph, Miles said that the team came to the Island to find Ben Linus. (“Confirmed Dead”)
4×03 – The Economist
Miles, Sayid and Kate took a journey to the Barracks to retrieve Charlotte Lewis from Locke. Upon arriving, they found Hurley tied up in a closet. Hurley told them Locke was losing it and insisted Miles and the others were there to kill them. Hurley asked him if they were, to which Miles replied, “Not yet.”
As they continued searching the house, they were ambushed by Locke and James “Sawyer” Ford, who had used Hurley to set a trap. The three captives were taken to different areas of the compound, and Locke and Sayid agreed to trade Miles for Charlotte. (“The Economist”)
4×04 – Eggtown
While at the barracks, Miles used Kate to gain access to Ben. He demanded $3.2 million in exchange for telling his employers that Ben is dead. When challenged that Charlotte already knows that Ben is alive, he said that he will take care of Charlotte. Miles explicitly stated that he knows exactly who Ben is, including the fact that Ben has access to a large amount of money. Kate then attempted to take him back to the boathouse, and he revealed he knows what she’s done and who she is. Locke took him back to the boathouse. The next day, Locke put a grenade in Miles’ mouth and pulled the pin, forcing Miles to keep his jaws clamped down on the trigger. Locke then left him there. (“Eggtown”)
4×08 – Meet Kevin Johnson
After learning who Ben’s man on the boat was, Locke called his group together and retrieved Miles from the boathouse. Miles did not protest when Ben claimed that the freighter team’s orders are to kill everyone on the island once Ben is captured. Despite his promise that there would be no more secrets, Locke failed to mention Miles’ attempted deal with Ben, which Sawyer questions. Miles laughed at Locke’s assertion that Ben would not be able to procure $3.2 million and claimed that Ben would always find a way to get what he wanted. (“Meet Kevin Johnson”)
4×09 – The Shape of Things to Come
When the Barracks came under attack by Keamy and his men, Keamy gave Miles a walkie to bring to Ben. Miles rang the bell and was let in. He told Ben that Keamy had his daughter. After Keamy killed Alex, Miles showed a look of shock and sympathy. Later, when being rushed out of the house, he showed another look of horror and amazement as the smoke monster attacked Keamy’s people. When Sawyer decided he was going to the beach, Miles tagged along. (“The Shape of Things to Come”)
4×10 – Something Nice Back Home
On the way, Miles heard the voices of Danielle and Karl, and subsequently discovered their corpses in shallow graves. He claimed that the mercenaries are “not his buddies” and that he “didn’t sign up for this.” He was also told by Sawyer to stay away from Claire and Aaron, and that he has a “restraining order.” After encountering Frank, he, Sawyer, and Claire hid from Keamy. They then continued on after the mercenaries left. Upon taking rest, he witnessed Claire talking to Christian Shephard, and watched her leave. He did not follow because of his “restraining order,” however. He informs Sawyer of Claire’s departure the next day, and Sawyer finds Aaron, abandoned, crying in the woods. (“Something Nice Back Home”)
Miles, Sawyer and Aaron continued their journey back to the beach. Along the way they chanced upon Kate and Jack who were following the chopper inland. Jack asked Kate to take care of Aaron, and take him back to the beach along with Miles. Jack recommenced his trek inland, along with Sawyer. (“There’s No Place Like Home, Part 1”)
When Faraday started ferrying people off of the Island in the Zodiac raft, Miles stated that he intended to stay on the Island, despite Faraday’s warnings. He showed surprise that Charlotte was considering leaving, and then he surprised Charlotte in turn by suggesting that he knew Charlotte had been on the Island before. (“There’s No Place Like Home, Part 2”)
Associated LOST Themes
Associated DHARMA Stations
Decoded Family Members
Decoded Season 1 Characters
Decoded Season 2 Characters
Decoded Season 3 Characters
Decoded Season 4 Characters
Decoded Season 5 Characters
Decoded Season 6 Characters
Key Episode(s) to Decoding the Character
Hermes is the great messenger of the gods in Greek mythology and additionally as a guide to the Underworld. Hermes was born on Mount Cyllene in Arcadia. An Olympian god, he is also the patron of boundaries and of the travelers who cross them, of shepherds and cowherds, of the cunning of thieves and liars, of orators and wit, of literature and poets, of athletics and sports, of weights and measures, of invention, and of commerce in general. His symbols include the tortoise, the rooster, the winged sandals, the winged hat, and the caduceus.
In the Roman adaptation of the Greek religion (see interpretatio romana), Hermes was identified with the Roman god Mercury, who, though inherited from the Etruscans, developed many similar characteristics, such as being the patron of commerce.
The Homeric hymn to Hermes invokes him as the one “of many shifts (polytropos), blandly cunning, a robber, a cattle driver, a bringer of dreams, a watcher by night, a thief at the gates, one who was soon to show forth wonderful deeds among the deathless gods.”
He protects and takes care of all the travelers, miscreants, harlots, old crones and thieves that pray to him or cross his path. He is athletic and is always looking out for runners, or any athletes with injuries who need his help.
Hermes is a messenger from the gods to humans, sharing this role with Iris. An interpreter who bridges the boundaries with strangers is a hermeneus. Hermes gives us our word “hermeneutics”, the study and theory of interpretation. In Greek a lucky find was a hermaion. Hermes delivered messages from Olympus to the mortal world. He wears shoes with wings on them and uses them to fly freely between the mortal and immortal world. Hermes was the second youngest of the Olympian gods, being born before Dionysus.
Hermes, as an inventor of fire, is a parallel of the Titan, Prometheus. In addition to the lyre, Hermes was believed to have invented many types of racing and the sports of wrestling and boxing, and therefore was a patron of athletes.
According to prominent folklorist Yeleazar Meletinsky, Hermes is a deified trickster. Hermes also served as a psychopomp, or an escort for the dead to help them find their way to the afterlife (the Underworld in the Greek myths). In many Greek myths, Hermes was depicted as the only god besides Hades, Persephone, Hecate, and Thanatos who could enter and leave the Underworld without hindrance.
Hermes often helped travelers have a safe and easy journey. Many Greeks would sacrifice to Hermes before any trip.
In the fully-developed Olympian pantheon, Hermes was the son of Zeus and the Pleiade Maia, a daughter of the Titan Atlas. Hermes’ symbols were the cock and the tortoise, and he can be recognized by his purse or pouch, winged sandals, winged cap, and the herald’s staff, the kerykeion. The night he was born he slipped away from Maia and stole his elder brother Apollo‘s cattle.
Cult and mythology
The origin of Hermes is uncertain. Some consider him a native god that was worshiped since the Neolithic era, while others suggests that he was an Asian import, perhaps via Cyprus or Cilicia well before the beginning of written records in Greece. What is certain is that his cult was established in Greece in remote regions, likely making him a god of nature, farmers and shepherds. It is also possible that since the beginning he has been a deity with shamanic attributes linked to divination, reconciliation, magic, sacrifices, and initiation and contact with other planes of existence, a role of mediator between the visible and invisible worlds. Among the functions most commonly linked to him in Greek literature are messenger of the gods, and god of language, speech, metaphors, prudence and circumspection, as well as intrigues and covert reasons, fraud and perjury, wit and ambiguity. Thus he was a patron of speakers, heralds, ambassadors and diplomats, messengers and thieves. He was believed to have invented fire, the lira, the syrinx, the alphabet, the numbers, to astronomy, a special form of music, the arts of fighting, the gym and the cultivation of olive trees, the measures, the weights and various other things.
Due to his constant mobility, he was considered the god of commerce and social intercourse, the wealth brought in business, especially sudden or unexpected enrichment, travel, roads and crossroads, borders and boundary conditions or transient, the changes from the threshold, agreements and contracts, friendship, hospitality, sexual intercourse, games, data, the draw, good luck, the sacrifices and the sacrificial animals, flocks and shepherds and the fertility of land and cattle. In addition to serving as messenger to Zeus, Hermes carried the souls of the dead to Hades, and directed the dreams sent by Zeus to mortals.
Early Greek sources
The first descriptions of the myth of Hermes date from the Archaic period of Ancient Greece. One of the most important myths appears in the Homeric Hymn to Hermes, dating to the seventh or sixth centuries BC and deals with his birth and early exploits. The hymn opens with a salutation to the god, calling him the lord of Mount Kyllini and Arcadia, the flocks of sheep, and messenger of the gods. It also names him as the son of Zeus, the result of his adulterous love with Maia, a nymph daughter of Atlas and Pleione. Living in a cave, hidden from human eyes and particularly the notoriously stormy and jealous Hera, Zeus’ wife and sister, Maia gave birth to “this ingenious child, this clever deception planner, tracker and capturer of cattle, a shepherd of dreams, this citizen of the night lurking in doorways.” The infant Hermes was precocious. His first day he invented the lyre. By nightfall, he had rustled the immortal cattle of Apollo. For the first sacrifice, the taboos surrounding the sacred kine of Apollo had to be transgressed, and the trickster god of boundaries was the one to do it. Hermes drove the cattle back to Greece and hid them, walking them backwards so that their tracks seemed to be going in the wrong direction. When Apollo accused Hermes, Maia said that it could not be him because he was with her the whole night. However, Zeus entered the argument and said that Hermes did steal the cattle and they should be returned. While arguing with Apollo, Hermes began to play his lyre. The instrument enchanted Apollo and he agreed to let Hermes keep the cattle in exchange for the lyre.
Homer and Hesiod portrayed Hermes as the author of skilled or deceptive acts, and also as a benefactor of mortals. In the Iliad he was called “the bringer of good luck,” “guide and guardian” and “excellent in all the tricks.” He was a divine ally of the Greeks against the Trojans. However, he did protect Priam when he went to the Greek camp to retrieve the body of his son Hector. When Priam got it, Hermes took them back to Troy. He also rescued Ares from a brazen vessel where he had been imprisoned by Otus and Ephialtes. In the Odyssey he helped the protagonist, Odysseus, informing him about the fate of his companions, who were turned into animals by the power of Circe, and instructed him to protect himself by chewing a magic herb; he also told Calypso Zeus’ order for her to free the same hero from her island to continue his journey back home. When Odysseus killed the suitors of his wife, Hermes lead their souls to Hades. In The Works and Days, when Zeus ordered Hephaestus to create Pandora to disgrace humanity by punishing the act of Prometheus giving fire to man, every god gave her a gift, and Hermes’ gift was lies and seductive words, and a dubious character. Then he was instructed to take her as wife to Epimetheus.
There are plenty of other myths featuring Hermes. Aeschylus wrote that Hermes helped Orestes kill Clytemnestra under a false identity and other stratagems, and also said that he was the god of searches, and those who seek things lost or stolen. Sophocles wrote that Odysseus invoked him when he needed to convince Philoctetes to join the Trojan War on the side of the Greeks, and Euripides did appear to help in spy Dolon Greek navy. Aesop, who allegedly had literary received his talents from Hermes, put him in several of its fables, as ruler of the gate of prophetic dreams, as the god of athletes, edible roots, hospitality. He also said that Hermes had assigned each person his share of intelligence. Pindar and Aristophanes also document his recent association with the gym, which did not exist at the time of Homer.
Worship and cult
One of the oldest places of worship for Hermes was Mount Cilene in Arcadia, where the myth says that he was born. Tradition says that his first temple was built by Lycaon. From there the cult would have been taken to Athens, and them radiate to the whole of Greece, according to Smith, and his temples and statues became extremely numerous. Lucian of Samosata said he saw the temples of Hermes everywhere. In many places, his temple was consecrated in conjunction with Aphrodite, as in Attica, Arcadia, Crete, Samos and in Magna Graecia. Several ex-votos found in his temples revealed his role as initiator of young adulthood, among them soldiers and hunters, since war and certain forms of hunting were seen as ceremonial initiatory ordeals. This function of Hermes explains why some images in temples and other vessels show him as a teenager. As a patron of the gym and fighting, Hermes had statues in gyms and he was also worshiped in the sanctuary of the Twelve Gods in Olympia, where Greeks celebrated the Olympic Games. His statue was held there on an altar dedicated to him and Apollo together. Hermes’ feast was the special Hermaea was celebrated with sacrifices to the god and with athletics and gymnastics, possibly having been established in the sixth century BC, but no documentation on the festival before the fourth century BC survives. However, Plato said that Socrates attended a Hermaea. Of all the festivals involving Greek games, these were the most like initiations because participation in them was restricted to young boys and excluded adults.Having an initiatory character, the winners of Hermaea returned to their villages as heroes and adults who had acquired honor. The Hermaea of Pellene became particularly busy, attracting competitors from distant regions. His prize was a thick mantle.
Symbols of Hermes were the palm tree, turtle, rooster, goat, the number four, several kinds of fish, incense. Sacrifices involved honey, cakes, pigs, goats, lambs and young people. In the sanctuary of Hermes Promakhos in Tanagra is a strawberry tree under which it was believed he had created, and in the hills Phene ran three sources that were sacred to him, because he believed that there had been bathed at birth. A statue of Hermes guarded the entrance to the temple of Apollo at Thebes, and there were some at Tanagra in which he appeared with a lamb (Kriophoros), because a legend said that he departed from the plague of the city carrying a lamb around the walls. Homer said the latest libations of a banquet were dedicated to Hermes, and Pausanias, who in his time had their statues in all gyms, following an ancient custom which was now being copied by the barbarians. In many cities there was a statue of him in the marketplaces. One form of worship was oracular, as established in the Pharaoh. In the market town once stood a statue of Hermes Agoraios, of which he had a heart carved in stone, with two oil lamps fastened with leather straps.
The satyr-like Greek god of nature, shepherds and flocks, Pan, was often said to be the son of Hermes through the nymph Dryope. In the Homeric Hymn to Pan, Pan’s mother ran away from the newborn god in fright from his goat-like appearance.
Hermaphroditus was an immortal son of Hermes through Aphrodite. He was changed into an androgynous being, a creature of both sexes, when the gods literally granted the nymph Salmacis’ wish, that she and Hermaphroditus were never separated after she embraced him passionately in a pool. He then cursed the pool, saying any man who entered it would lose his masculinity.
Depending on the sources consulted, the god Priapus could be understood as a son of Hermes. In Priapus, Hermes’ phallic origins survived.
According to some sources, the mischievous winged god of love Eros, son of Aphrodite, was sired by Hermes, though the gods Ares and Hephaestus were also among those said to be the sire, whereas in the Theogony, Hesiod claims that Eros was born of nothing before the Gods. Eros’ Roman name was Cupid. Eros also has magical arrows, with which he can cause any mortal to fall in love with the next being they see, human or otherwise. According to Anne-Marie Bowery in “Diotima Tells Socrates A Story: A Narrative Analysis of Plato’s Symposium” which was included in “Feminism and Ancient Philosophy” edited by Julie K. Ward, Eros was conceived when all the gods except Penia (whose name means poverty) are invited to Aphrodites birthday party but Penia came anyway. Poros (whose name means plenty) passed out in Zeuses garden after drinking too much. Penia seduces Poros and conceives Eros who acquires a dual character from both his mother and father. This is how Eros got his indeterminate and intermediary nature, that between the divine and the earthly.
The goddess of prosperity, Tyche or Fortuna, was sometimes said to be the daughter of Hermes and Aphrodite.
Autolycus, the Prince of Thieves, was a son of Hermes and chione (mortal) and grandfather of Odysseus.