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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Mercurius

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(the Roman name of the god Mercury, the Hermes of the Greeks, ῾Ερμῆς , Acts 14:12; comp. Romans 16:14; the name is of uncertain etymology), properly, a Greek deity, whom the Romans identified with their god of commerce and bargains. In the Greek mythology Hermes was the son of Zeus and Maia, the daughter of Atlas, and is constantly represented as the companion of his father in his wanderings upon earth. On one of these occasions they were travelling in Phrygia, and were refused hospitality by all save Baucis and Philemon, the two aged peasants of whom Ovid tells the charming episode in his Metam. 8:620-724, which appears to have formed part of the folk-lore of Asia Minor. SEE LYCAONIA.

Mercury was the herald of the gods (Homer, Od. v. 28; Hym. in Herm. 3), and of Zeus (Od. 1:38, 84; Il. 24:333; 461), the eloquent orator (Od. 1:86; Horace, Od. 1:10, 1), inventor of letters, music, and the arts. He was equally characterized by-adroitness of action -and readiness of speech, being the representative of intelligence and craft among men (see Pauly's Real-Encyklop. 4:1842). He was usually-represented as a slender, beardless youth,but in an older Pelasgic figure he was bearded. The fact that he was the customary attendant of Jupiter when he appeared on earth (Ovid, Fast. v. 495; comp. Metam. 2:731 sq.), explains why the inhabitants of Lystra (Acts 14:12), as soon as they were disposed to believe that the gods had visited them in the likeness of men, discovered Hermes in Paul, as the chief speaker, and as the attendant of Jupiter (see Kuinol, Comment. ad loc.). It seems unnecessary to be curious whether the representations of Mercury in ancient statues accord with the supposed personal appearance of Paul (see Walch, Diss. ad Acta Ap. 3:183 sq.), and especially in the matter of the beard of the latter, for all known representations of the god differ in much more important particulars from the probable costume of Paul (e.g. in the absence of any garment at all, or in the use of the short chlamys merely; in the caduceus, the petasus,. etc. (see Muller, Ancient Art, § 379381). It is more reasonable to suppose that those who expected to see the gods mixing in the affairs of this lower world, in human form, would not look for much more than the outward semblance of ordinary men.

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Mercurius'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/m/mercurius.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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MERCURIUS.