Mercury (mythology)

Mercury (/ˈmɜːrkjʊri/; Latin: Mercurius [mɛrˈkʊriʊs] listen ) is a major god in Roman religion and mythology, being one of the 12 Dii Consentes within the ancient Roman pantheon. He is the god of financial gain, commerce, eloquence, messages, communication (including divination), travelers, boundaries, luck, trickery and thieves; he also serves as the guide of souls to the underworld.[1][2] He was considered the son of Maia, who was a daughter of the Titan Atlas, and Jupiter in Roman mythology. His name is possibly related to the Latin word merx ("merchandise"; cf. merchant, commerce, etc.), mercari (to trade), and merces (wages); another possible connection is the Proto-Indo-European root merĝ- for "boundary, border" (cf. Old English "mearc", Old Norse "mark" and Latin "margō") and Greek οὖρος (by analogy of Arctūrus/Ἀρκτοῦρος), as the "keeper of boundaries," referring to his role as bridge between the upper and lower worlds. In his earliest forms, he appears to have been related to the Etruscan deity Turms; both gods share characteristics with the Greek god Hermes. He is often depicted holding the caduceus in his left hand. Similar to his Greek equivalent Hermes, he was awarded the caduceus by Apollo who handed him a magic wand, which later turned into the caduceus.

Mercury
God of financial gain, commerce, travelers, boundaries, luck, trickery, merchants, thieves
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 (right). A man is offering a goat at an altar
SymbolCaduceus, winged sandals, winged hat, tortoise, ram and rooster
Personal information
ConsortLarunda
ChildrenLares
ParentsMaia and Jupiter
Greek equivalentHermes

History

Mercury did not appear among the numinous di indigetes of early Roman religion. Rather, he subsumed the earlier Dei Lucrii as Roman religion was syncretized with Greek religion during the time of the Roman Republic, starting around the 4th century BC. From the beginning, Mercury had essentially the same aspects as Hermes, wearing winged shoes (talaria) and a winged hat (petasos), and carrying the caduceus, a herald's staff with two entwined snakes that was Apollo's gift to Hermes. He was often accompanied by a cockerel, herald of the new day, a ram or goat, symbolizing fertility, and a tortoise, referring to Mercury's legendary invention of the lyre from a tortoise shell.

Mercurybyhendrickgoltzius.jpeg
Hendrik Goltzius: Mercury, with his symbols

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.[3] He was also, like Hermes, the Romans' psychopomp, leading newly deceased souls to the afterlife. Additionally, Ovid wrote that Mercury carried Morpheus' dreams from the valley of Somnus to sleeping humans.[4]

Archeological evidence from Pompeii suggests that Mercury was among the most popular of Roman gods.[5] The god of commerce was depicted on two early bronze coins of the Roman Republic, the Sextans and the Semuncia.[6]

Mercury Semuncia 200BC
Mercury portrait on a bronze Semuncia (215–211 BC)

Syncretism

When they described the gods of Celtic and Germanic tribes, rather than considering them separate deities, the Romans interpreted them as local manifestations or aspects of their own gods, a cultural trait called the interpretatio Romana. Mercury, in particular, was reported as becoming extremely popular among the nations the Roman Empire conquered; Julius Caesar wrote of Mercury being the most popular god in Britain and Gaul, regarded as the inventor of all the arts.[7] This is probably because, in the Roman syncretism, Mercury was equated with the Celtic god Lugus, and in this aspect was commonly accompanied by the Celtic goddess Rosmerta. Although Lugus may originally have been a deity of light or the sun (though this is disputed), similar to the Roman Apollo, his importance as a god of trade made him more comparable to Mercury, and Apollo was instead equated with the Celtic deity Belenus.[4]

Romans associated Mercury with the Germanic god Wotan, by interpretatio Romana; 1st-century Roman writer Tacitus identifies him as the chief god of the Germanic peoples.[8]

Names and epithets

Mercury is known to the Romans as Mercurius and occasionally in earlier writings as Merqurius, Mirqurios or Mircurios, had a number of epithets representing different aspects or roles, or representing syncretisms with non-Roman deities. The most common and significant of these epithets included the following:

  • Mercurius Artaios, a syncretism of Mercury with the Celtic god Artaios, a deity of bears and hunting who was worshiped at Beaucroissant, France.[9]
  • Mercurius Arvernus, a syncretism of the Celtic Arvernus with Mercury. Arvernus was worshiped in the Rhineland, possibly as a particular deity of the Arverni tribe, though no dedications to Mercurius Arvernus occur in their territory in the Auvergne region of central France.[9]
  • Mercurius Cimbrianus, a syncretism of Mercury with a god of the Cimbri sometimes thought to represent Odin.
  • Mercurius Cissonius, a combination of Mercury with the Celtic god Cissonius, who is written of in the area spanning from Cologne, Germany to Saintes, France.[9]
  • Mercurius Esibraeus, a syncretism of the Iberian deity Esibraeus with the Roman deity Mercury. Esibraeus is mentioned only in an inscription found at Medelim, Portugal, and is possibly the same deity as Banda Isibraiegus, who is invoked in an inscription from the nearby village of Bemposta.[10]
  • Mercurius Gebrinius, a syncretism of Mercury with the Celtic or Germanic Gebrinius, known from an inscription on an altar in Bonn, Germany.[9]
  • Mercurius Moccus, from a Celtic god, Moccus, who was equated with Mercury, known from evidence at Langres, France. The name Moccus ("pig") implies that this deity was connected to boar-hunting.[9]
  • Mercurius Sobrius ("Mercury the Teetotaler"), a syncretism of Mercury with a Carthaginian god of commerce.[11]
  • Mercurius Visucius, a syncretism of the Celtic god Visucius with the Roman god Mercury, attested in an inscription from Stuttgart, Germany. Visucius was worshiped primarily in the frontier area of the empire in Gaul and Germany. Although he was primarily associated with Mercury, Visucius was also sometimes linked to the Roman god Mars, as a dedicatory inscription to "Mars Visucius" and Visucia, Visicius' female counterpart, was found in Gaul.[9][12]

In ancient literature

In Virgil's Aeneid, Mercury reminds Aeneas of his mission to found the city of Rome. In Ovid's Fasti, Mercury is assigned to escort the nymph Larunda to the underworld. Mercury, however, falls in love with Larunda and makes love to her on the way. Larunda thereby becomes mother to two children, referred to as the Lares, invisible household gods.

Temple

Mercury's temple in Rome was situated in the Circus Maximus, between the Aventine and Palatine hills, and was built in 495 BC.[13]

That year saw disturbances at Rome between the patrician senators and the plebeians, which led to a secession of the plebs in the following year. At the completion of its construction, a dispute emerged between the consuls Appius Claudius Sabinus Regillensis and Publius Servilius Priscus Structus as to which of them should have the honour of dedicating the temple. The senate referred the decision to the popular assembly, and also decreed that whichever was chosen should also exercise additional duties, including presiding over the markets, establish a merchants' guild, and exercising the functions of the pontifex maximus. The people, because of the ongoing public discord, and in order to spite the senate and the consuls, instead awarded the honour of dedicating the temple to the senior military officer of one of the legions named Marcus Laetorius. The senate and the consuls, in particular the conservative Appius, were outraged at this decision, and it inflamed the ongoing situation.[14]

The dedication occurred on 15 May, 495 BC.[15]

The temple was regarded as a fitting place to worship a swift god of trade and travel, 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.

Worship

Because Mercury was not one of the early deities surviving from the Roman Kingdom, he was not assigned a flamen ("priest"), but he did have his own major festival, on 15 May, the Mercuralia. During the Mercuralia, merchants sprinkled water from his sacred well near the Porta Capena on their heads.

In popular culture

Mercury on a St. Lucia 1949 UPU stamp
Mercury as the winged messenger on a 1949 St. Lucia stamp issued in connection with the Universal Postal Union
Mercury Montclair 1956 (15480211331)
1956 Mercury Montclair hardtop
  • Mercury features in the first published comic book story of comics legend Jack Kirby Mercury in the 21st Century published in Red Raven Comics 1, 1940.[16]
  • Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugeese, Manchesteser United, Real Madrid, and Juventus football player with the brand: 'mercurial' by Nike
  • The now-defunct Mercury car brand from Ford Motor Co. was named after the Roman god. The first logo the Mercury brand used was a side profile of Mercury's head, complete with winged helmet.
  • Likewise, Mercury Records, a major American record label from the 1940s to the present, was not only named after the Roman god, but used a stylized frontal illustration of his head as its trademark.
  • The United States' so-called Mercury dime, issued from 1916 to 1945, actually features a Winged Liberty and not the god Mercury, but is so named because of a misinterpretation of the goddess's Phrygian cap as wings.[17]

References

  1. ^ Glossary to Ovid's Fasti, Penguin edition, by Boyle and Woodard at 343
  2. ^ Rupke, The Religion of the Romans, at 4
  3. ^ Caesar, Gallic War, at 55
  4. ^ a b Littleton, C. Scott (Ed.) (2002). Mythology: The Illustrated Anthology of World Myth and Storytelling (pp. 195, 251, 253, 258, 292). London: Duncan Baird Publishers. ISBN 1-904292-01-1.
  5. ^ Beard, Pompeii: The Life of a Roman Town at 295–298
  6. ^ Sear, David R. (2000). Roman Coins and Their Values – The Millennium Edition. Volume I: The Republic and The Twelve Caesars, 280BC-AD96 (pp. 187–189). London: Spink. ISBN 1-902040-35-X
  7. ^ De Bello Gallico 6.17
  8. ^ Germania 9
  9. ^ a b c d e f Green, Miranda J. (1992). Dictionary of Celtic Myth and Legend (pp. 148–149). London: Thames and Hudson. ISBN 0-500-01516-3.
  10. ^ Alarcão, Jorge de (1988). Roman Portugal. Volume I: Introduction (p. 93). Warminster: Aris and Phillips.
  11. ^ Potter, David. "Review of "Rome and Carthage at Peace" by R.E.A.Palmer". Bryn Mawr Classical Review. Retrieved Feb 9, 2019.
  12. ^ Espérandieu, E. (1931). Recueil Général des Bas-relief, Statues et Bustes de la Germanie Romaine. Paris and Brussels.
  13. ^ Livy, Ab urbe condita, 2:21
  14. ^ Livy, Ab urbe condita, 2.27
  15. ^ Livy, Ab urbe condita, 2.21
  16. ^ Marvel Visionaries, Jack Kirby, Marvel Comics, 2004
  17. ^ "1916-1945 Mercury Silver Dime Value - Coinflation (Updated Daily)". line feed character in |title= at position 51 (help)
Dei Lucrii

The dii lucrii or dei lucrii are a collective of Roman deities mentioned by the Christian apologist Arnobius (d. 330 AD):

"Indeed, who is there who would believe that there are gods of profit, and that they preside over the pursuit of profits, which come most of the time from base sources and always at the expense of others?"

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Manganese

Manganese is a chemical element with symbol Mn and atomic number 25. It is not found as a free element in nature; it is often found in minerals in combination with iron. Manganese is a metal with important industrial metal alloy uses, particularly in stainless steels.

Historically, manganese is named for pyrolusite and other black minerals from the region of Magnesia in Greece, which also gave its name to magnesium and the iron ore magnetite. By the mid-18th century, Swedish-German chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheele had used pyrolusite to produce chlorine. Scheele and others were aware that pyrolusite (now known to be manganese dioxide) contained a new element, but they were unable to isolate it. Johan Gottlieb Gahn was the first to isolate an impure sample of manganese metal in 1774, which he did by reducing the dioxide with carbon.

Manganese phosphating is used for rust and corrosion prevention on steel. Ionized manganese is used industrially as pigments of various colors, which depend on the oxidation state of the ions. The permanganates of alkali and alkaline earth metals are powerful oxidizers. Manganese dioxide is used as the cathode (electron acceptor) material in zinc-carbon and alkaline batteries.

In biology, manganese(II) ions function as cofactors for a large variety of enzymes with many functions. Manganese enzymes are particularly essential in detoxification of superoxide free radicals in organisms that must deal with elemental oxygen. Manganese also functions in the oxygen-evolving complex of photosynthetic plants. While the element is a required trace mineral for all known living organisms, it also acts as a neurotoxin in larger amounts. Especially through inhalation, it can cause manganism, a condition in mammals leading to neurological damage that is sometimes irreversible.

Mercurius

Mercurius is Latin for Mercury and may refer to:

Mercury (mythology) or Mercurius

Mercurius (crater), a crater on the Moon

Saint Mercurius

The name of the demon from the German fairy tale "The Spirit in the Bottle"

Pope John II, whose given name was Mercurius

Mercurius Oxoniensis, pen-name of Hugh Trevor-Roper

Mercurius of Transylvania, voivode of Transylvania

Mercurius (Sweden) A Swedish Investment company

The OZ-13MSX2 Mercurius, a mobile suit appearing in the anime, "Mobile Suit Gundam Wing"

Mercury and Argus (Jordaens)

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Sailor Mercury

Sailor Mercury (セーラーマーキュリー, Sērā Mākyurī) is a fictional character in the Sailor Moon manga series created by Naoko Takeuchi. She is the alternate human identity of Ami Mizuno (水野 亜美, Mizuno Ami, renamed "Amy Anderson" or "Amy Mizuno" in some English adaptations), a teenage Japanese schoolgirl, and a part of the Sailor Soldiers, female supernatural fighters who protect the Solar System from evil.

Sailor Mercury is the first Sailor Soldier to be discovered by Sailor Moon. She serves as the "brains" of the group, as she is highly intelligent and can also use a supercomputer to collect useful information in battles. She possesses powers associated with water and ice.

Aside from the main body of the Sailor Moon series, Ami features in her own short story in the manga, Ami's First Love. Originally published in volume fourteen of the manga, this was the only of three "Exam Battle" stories to be made into a special for the anime, which by therefore, makes her one of the most recognizable and popular characters in the series. A number of image songs mentioning Ami's character have been released as well, including the contents of three different 3-inch CD singles.

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