Mercury first appears as the Roman and Latin god of merchants, which connected him with scribecraft and numbers. His full name in Latin is Mercurius. He was identified with the Greek god Hermes who was more widely worshiped as god of thieves, god of wanderers, god of heraldry, and the messenger of the gods, as well as being the god of writing. He is also sometimes the god who guides the dead to the underworld.
Mercury in Roman Religion and MythologyEdit
Mercury became generally identical with Hermes, usually pictured as a young man with a winged cap and winged sandals to symbolize his duties as a messenger. Mercury carries a special staff known as the caduceus, twined with two serpents, apparently a divine version of the kerukeion, a staff carried by heralds. Mercury was son of Jove by a minor goddess named Maia.
Mercury was one of the seven Planetary Gods, associated with the fastest-moving planet and with the fourth day of the week.
Identifications with Other GodsEdit
Mercury tended to be identified with whatever god was connected to writing in other pantheons, notably to the Egyptian ibis-headed god Thoth who was god of scribes in both the Egyptian and Phoenician pantheon. Thoth was often known as ‘thrice-great Hermes’.
The supreme Celtic god Lug was identified with Hermes. Little is known of Lug except in Irish tales where Lug is master of all skills and crafts.
Mercury was identified with the Germanic god *Wōđanaz from which the Old English god Woden and the Old Norse god Óðinn derive. This god was a sovereign god. The Old Norse version at least was pictured as a one-eyed, old man to whom the Germanic runic writing system was attributed.
Some Name VariationsEdit
LATIN: Mercurius; FRENCH: Mercuries, Mercurius, Mercurion; ENGLISH: Mercurius, Mercurius, Merchurius; WELSH: Mercurius.