Mercurius is a god of Roman mythology with many characteristics: he was considered the protector of commerce, travelers, thieves, eloquence, athletics, transformations of all kinds, speed, dexterity, and pharmacy.
He is likened to the Greek god Hermes. The caduceus, a herald’s staff with two intertwined snakes that was Apollo‘s gift to Hermes, was something Mercury carried from the start. He also wore winged shoes (talaria) and a winged cap (petasos). He frequently traveled with a rooster to announce the dawn, a ram or goat to represent fertility, and a tortoise to honor Mercury, who is credited with creating the lyre from a tortoise shell. He was regarded as either the son of Caelus and Dies or Maia, one of the seven daughters of the Titan Atlas, and Jupiter in Roman mythology.
Related article: Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Rome
The Romans portrayed the gods of the Celtic and Germanic nations as local manifestations or facets of their own gods rather than as independent deities, a practice known as the interpretatio Romana. Particularly Mercury was said to have gained enormous popularity among the peoples the Roman Empire conquered; according to Julius Caesar, Mercury was the most revered deity in Britain and Gaul and was considered as the creator of all the arts. This is likely a result of Mercury being linked with the Celtic god Lugus in Roman syncretism, and in this aspect, Rosmerta was frequently present.
Featured image: Fresco of Mercury-Hermes in Pompeii, 1st century
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