kye rE] Roman messenger of the gods; god of roads
and travel, commerce, property, and wealth
Because he was considered
crafty and deceptive, criminals saw Mercury as
their protector. The Romans "borrowed"
Mercury from the Greeks, whose Hermes had a role very similar to Mercury's.
Mercury was able to deliver
messages with miraculous speed because he wore
winged sandals called talaria. He also
wore a broad-brimmed wing hat called a petasus
and carried a winged staff. The Latin word for
messenger was caduceus, and that word
came to be applied to Mercury's staff. Mercury's
caduseus had snakes coiled around it to protect
him on his travels. In ancient times most
messengers and travelers wore a hat simmilar to
Mercury's petasus, and many also carried a staff
similar to the caduseus as a means of identifying
themselves to fellow messengers and travelers.
Mercury later became associated with magic and
science, and his caduceus has come to symbolize
According to Roman mythology,
Mercury was the son of Jupiter, the king of the
gods, and Maia, a minor goddess. Artists
portrayed him as a handsome young man, with an
expression of alertness and intelligence.
The English words commerce,
merchandise, and merchant are
all derived from his name. The name
"Mercury" has also been applied to the
innermost planet of the Solar System, an element,
and even a car model.
World Book Encyclopedia
Chicago: World Book-Childcraft International,
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