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.

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Roman Gods and Goddesses: Mars Facts

Here are some facts about Mars.

  • Mars was the Roman God of War and the most important Roman god after Jupiter.

  • The planet Mars, known as the Red Planet, was named after him.
  • He was also one of the most important military gods worshiped by the Roman army.
  • Most festivals honouring Mars were held in March, and the month was named for him.
  • Mars was one of the first gods to appear on Roman coins, in the late 4th century. He is usually shown carrying a helmet and spear to show his war-like nature.
  • The symbol for Mars is a circle with an arrow extending from it, pointing to the upper right. It is also the symbol for the male gender and for the planet Mars.
  • Mars was the son of the goddess Juno, the protector of the state.
  • The wife or companion of Mars was Nerine or Nerio who represented majesty, vitality and power.
  • The priests of the god Mars were called Salil and came from Rome’s noble families. The 12 Salil carried sacred shields between towns, accompanied by men playing trumpets.
  • A fierce goddess named Bellona was said to often accompany Mars, armed with a spear and a whip. A temple was built to her on Rome’s Campus Martius, a popular city meeting place.
  • There were several temples devoted to Mars throughout Rome. The main temple was built in 388 BC and was a popular meeting point for Roman soldiers who were departing throughout the Roman Empire.
  • The Romans held several festivals to honour the god Mars, most of them in March and October. Festivals featured singing hymns, displays of military might, and chariot races.
  • The goose, the woodpecker and the wolf were closely associated with Mars. The appearance of wolves in 295 BC at the battle of Sentium was taken as a sign of a Roman victory.

What next? Learn more about the Romans or discover more facts about Roman Gods and Goddesses.