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Mercury, with winged hat and staff, classical statue; in the Uffizi, Florence—Alinari/Art Resource, New York
In Roman religion, the god of merchants, commonly identified with the Greek messenger of the gods, Hermes. His temple on Rome's Aventine Hill was dedicated in 495 BC. The goddess Maia was identified as his mother, and the two were honoured in a festival on May 15. Mercury is sometimes depicted holding a purse, symbolic of his business functions. More often he is given the attributes of Hermes and portrayed wearing winged sandals or a winged cap and carrying a caduceus.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Mercury, visit Britannica.com.