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Mercury (mythology)

Mercury is a god, also known as the god of trade, profit and commerce. His name is apparently derived from the Latin merx or mercator, a merchant. He is very similar to the Greek god Hermes and the Etruscan Turms.

This article treats Mercury in cult practice and in archaic Rome. For later mythological and poetic accounts of Mercury, which were heavily influenced by Greek mythology, see Hermes.

Mercury's temple in the Circus Maximus, between the Aventine and Palatine hills, was built in 495 BC. This was a fitting place to worship a god of trade and swiftness, since it was a major center of commerce as well as a racetrack. Since it stood between the plebeian stronghold on the Aventine and the patrician center on the Palatine, it also emphasized the role of Mercury as a mediator.

On May 15, the Mercuralia was held in his honor; merchants sprinkled water from his sacred well near the Porta Capena on their heads.

Mercury became extremely popular among the nations the Roman Empire conquered. The Celts equated him with their main god Lugh, and Germans equated him with Wodan.

He was called Mercurius in Latin and was also known as Alipes ("with the winged feet").

Often identified in Classical art by his characteristic petasos and caduceus.

See also: Dei Lucrii

Last updated: 05-12-2005 11:43:51
Last updated: 05-13-2005 07:56:04