Roman Gods and Goddesses: Mercury Facts

Here are some facts about Mercury.

  • Mercury was the Roman god of commerce and financial gain and has given his name to the word merchant. He was also the god of poetry, thieving, trickery and travellers.

  • Mercury was the son of Jupiter and Maia. His children were Pan and the Lares, a group of invisible gods who were responsible for protecting homes and families.
  • The temple devoted to Mercury was situated in Rome near the chariot racing stadium. Because the racetrack was a marketplace too, it was considered the ideal place for his temple.
  • The DC Comics super heroes the Flash and Shazam are partly based on Mercury and his powers. Ford’s Mercury car brand, popular in the 1950s, also took its name from the god.
  • Because he was able to travel quickly, he became known as the messenger of the gods. He was also given the task of leading the souls of the dead to the underworld.
  • The planet Mercury, the smallest in our solar system, took its name from the god Mercury. He also gave his name to the element Mercury, often also known as quicksilver.
  • He was known for wearing a winged helmet, allowing him to fly. He also often carried a stick showing entwined snakes, which was supposedly a gift from Apollo.
  • Mercury was also a popular god in countries invaded by the Romans. He was associated with the arts in Britain, and in Celtic countries was thought to be a three headed creature.
  • According to legend, Mercury stole an unbreakable steel net from the god Vulcan. He then used it to try to catch a nymph named Chloris with whom he was in love .
  • Mercury’s festival was known as the Mercuralia and took place on May 15th. To bring good luck, merchants sprinkled water on their heads, their businesses and their belongings.

What next? Learn more about the Romans by visiting our resources page.