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A large cast bronze figure of the Roman god Mercury. 1st - 2nd Century AD.

Mercury (Latin Mercurius) in Roman religion was the god of shopkeepers and merchants, travelers and transporters of goods, and also thieves and tricksters. He is commonly identified with the Greek Hermes, the fleet-footed messenger of the gods.

The cult of Mercury is ancient, and tradition has it that his temple on the Aventine Hill in Rome was dedicated in 495 BC. There Mercury was associated with Maia, who became identified as his mother through her association with the Greek Maia, one of the Pleiades, who was the mother of Hermes by Zeus; likewise, because of that Greek connection, Mercury was considered the son of Jupiter. Both Mercury and Maia were honoured in the Mercuralia festival on May 15, the dedication day of Mercury’s temple on the Aventine. Mercury is sometimes represented as holding a purse (seen in this figure) symbolic of his business functions.

Based on archaeological evidence, Mercury appears to have been the most popular God in Roman Britain.

Condition: Fine. Well preserved bronze. Missing lower right arm.

Dimensions: 23cm (with plinth) x 11.5cm (figure).

Provenance: From my own long established collection, by descent. He was found in a river bank in Britain. Old letter of provenance supplied.


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