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Mercvrivs



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    MERCVRIVS.ó The God Mercury, son of Jupiter, and Maia, one of the daughters of Atlas: so called by the Latins (according to Festus) from merces or the gains of trade, because he was supposed to preside over mercantile affairs. The Greeks called him Hermes. By the poets he was honoured under various surnames; and the offices and occupations assigned to him by mythologists were still more numerous and diversified. His principal characteristic was that of being the faithful and intimate attendant upon Jupiter, and his ordinary messenger. Next in importance was his dignity of chief herald and minister of the gods, as well infernal as celestial.----Diodorus Siculus says of Mercury that he was the first amongst the deities who instituted religious worship and sacrifices; hence we see him on coins imaged with caduceus and purse, and the inscription around his effigy of PIETAS AVG., or AVGG.----There is a coin of Gallienus which illustrates his attributes of rewarding acts of religion to the gods with gifts, and on which Mercury is represented with caduceus and crumena, the inscription being DONA AVG.----He is distinguished on all ancient monuments by his head being covered with a winged cap (in Latin petasus), and his feet are also furnished with wings. He wears a hat, as the reputed god of merchants, because (says Vaillant in his Colonies) all business negotiations should be kept hidden; and wings are appended to it, because the bargaining between sellers and buyers shoulder be speedily dispatched like a bird through the air.----The rod with serpents entwined on it, called caduceus, signifies the regal power which is sometimes given to merchants, or it is the symbol of contentions removed and peace promoted. Sometimes we see a ram, a tortoise, a dog, or a cock at his feet.
    Mercury, the worship of whom was borrowed (so early, it is said, as the time of Romulus) from the Etruscans, has his bust impressed (with or without the petasus covering his head) on the ancient brass coins of the Romans.----See the Sextantes or parts of the As.----On a quinarius of the Papia family appears the head of Mercury, and a lyre on the reverse, an association which corroborates the pretensions made for him by Horace and other poets, to be considered as the inventor of that instrument.----We also see the head of Mercury, with the caduceus behind it, on denarii of the Aburia, Apronia, Pomponia, and other families.
    Mercuryís image at full length is not often found on coins of the republic or of the upper empire. His head is, however, to be discerned on some denarii of the Mamilia family; and on one of the Rubria family it exhibits itself united to that of Hercules, like the head of Janus.----Mercury seated is the most rare to be met with. His posture is almost uniformly upright.----Beger, however, gives a very rare medal of Tiberius, on the obverse of which is that Emperorís head laureate, with the circumscription TI. CAES. DIVI. AVG. F. AVG. IMP.----On the reverse appears Mercury sitting on a rock, with a caduceus in his right hand, and with the inscription PERMIS. P. CORNELI. DOLABELLAE. PROCOS. C.P. CAS. D.D.----Spanheim (in his Caesars of Julian) gives us, on two Greek Imperial medals, Mercury with all his adornments, his hat with two wings, his caduceus in one hand, his purse in the other; and his two winged buskins, which he put on when he performed the part of Jupiterís messenger.
    Mercury, with his attributes, is depictured on a rare third brass of Claudius II Gothicus, with the epigraph FIDES. AVG.----A half-naked male figure, with radiate head, holding the winged caduceus of Mercury in his right and an instrument like a trident in his left hand, appears on a first brass of Clodius Albinus, with legend of SAECVLO FRVGIFERO.----A similar figure, and the same legend, is seen on first brass of Septimius Severus.
    Mercury standing, with the crumena in his right hand, forms the reverse type of a very rare gold coin of Gallienus, inscribed FORTUNA REDVX.----An image of the same deity appears on coins of Herennius Etruscus, Hostilian, Valerian, Postumus, Carinus, and Numerian: the epigraph to most of these is PIETAS AVGusti.----On a gold coin of Gallienus Mercury accompanies the legend of PROVIDENTIA AVG.----On a first brass of Marcus Aurelius, he appears in a temple; and also without the temple.    See REGLIGio AVGVSTI.----On a silver coin of Gallienus, Mercury with his attributes accompanies the legend of DONA AVG.
    Mercury dragging a ram to the altar is the type, without legend, of one of the beautiful medallions of Antoninus Pius.
    Mercury, though not unfrequently typified on coins of Roman die, is represented with his various attributes of the petasus, caduceus, and crumena, on many colonial medals, bearing Latin legends.----See Heliopolis (Philip I), Patrae (Caracalla and Elagabalus), and Tyrus (Valerian and Salonina).

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