Hermes (Mercury) Statue
A Greek and Roman messenger of the gods,
Mercury or Hermes is a deity of wealth, trade and travelers. Using his winged
sandals he named 'talaria,' he assisted many gods in delivering messages. He
holds his famous symbol, the caduceus, which later became a symbol for medicine
Hermes was the son of Zeus and the nymph Maia, Altas' daughter. He was the god
of shepherds, merchants, literature, and thieves. Also a messenger of the gods,
he escorted souls to the underworld. A most clever of all the Olympian gods, he
invented the lyre, fire, the musical scale, astronomy, weights, measures, the
alphabet, boxing, racing and the care of olive trees.
(from Bulfinch's Mythology - Age of Fable)
Mercury (Hermes) was the son of Jupiter
(Zeus) and Maia. He presided over commerce, wrestling, and other gymnastic
exercises, even over
thieving, and everything, in short, which required skill and
dexterity. He was the messenger of Jupiter, and wore a winged cap
and winged shoes. He bore in his hand a rod entwined with two
serpents, called the caduceus.
Mercury is said to have invented the lyre. He found, one day, a
tortoise, of which he took the shell, made holes in the opposite
edges of it, and drew cords of linen through them, and the
instrument was complete. The cords were nine, in honor of the nine
Muses. Mercury gave the lyre to Apollo, and received from him in
exchange the caduceus.
[Footnote: From this origin of the instrument, the word "shell" is
often used as synonymous with "lyre," and figuratively for music
and poetry. Thus Gray, in his ode on the "Progress of Poesy,"
"O Sovereign of the willing Soul,
Parent of sweet and solemn-breathing airs,
Enchanting shell! the sullen Cares
And frantic Passions hear thy soft control."]