Mercury was god of financial gain, commerce, eloquence, messages, communication, travelers, boundaries, luck, trickery and thieves; he also serves as the guide of souls to the underworld.

Symbols: Caduceus, winged sandals, winged hat, tortoise, ram, cockerel
Parents: Jupiter and Maia
Consort: Larunda
Children: Lares
Greek equivalent: Hermes

Hermes Ingenui Pio-Clementino Inv544.jpg
Mercury, Roman copy of the 2nd c. BC after a Greek original of the 5th c. BC, Vatican Museum.

From the beginning, Mercury had essentially the same aspects as Hermes; wearing winged shoes and a winged hat, and carrying the caduceus. He was often accompanied by a cockerel, herald of the new day, a ram, symbolizing fertility, and a tortoise, referring to Mercury’s legendary invention of the lyre from a tortoise shell.

Crude stone relief carving of two standing male figures, facing the viewer and flanked by columns under a peaked roof; the taller figure is mostly nude and holds a bag or purse toward the shorter figure, who holds a goat by the horns
Consecration relief with the god Mercury. A man is offering a goat at an altar. (c) Ad Meskens

Like Hermes, he was also a god of messages, eloquence and of trade, particularly of the grain trade. Mercury was also considered a god of abundance and commercial success, particularly in Gaul, where he was said to have been particularly revered. He was also the Romans’ psychopomp, leading newly deceased souls to the afterlife.

Archeological evidence from Pompeii suggests that Mercury was among the most popular of the Roman gods. The god of commerce was depicted on two early bronze coins of the Roman Republic, the Sextans and the Semuncia.

Mercury portrait on a bronze Semuncia, 215–211 BC. (c) rc13
Statue of Mercury wearing the petasos, a voyager’s cloak, the caduceus and a purse. Roman copy after a Greek original, Vatican Museum.
Mercury Fastening his Sandal, early Imperial Roman marble copy of a Lysippan bronze, Louvre Museum. (c) Ricardo Andre Franz
Statue of Mercury, Roman copy from the late 1st c. BC – early 2nd c. AD after a Greek original of the 5th c. BC.

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