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Mercury

Mercury in Roman mythology, the Roman god of eloquence, skill, trading, and thieving, herald and messenger of the gods, presider over roads, and conductor of departed souls to Hades, who was identified with Hermes. He is usually represented in art as a young man with winged sandals and a winged hat, and bearing the caduceus.

His function as a messenger gave rise to the use of his name in the titles of newspapers and journals, as The Scotch Mercury of 1643. (The ‘English Mercury (1588)’, sometimes cited as the earliest English newspaper, was in fact an 18th-century forgery.)

From late Middle English, mercury was used to denote the chemical element of atomic number 80, a heavy silvery-white metal (also called quicksilver) which is liquid at ordinary temperatures. This application probably arose from an analogy between the fluidity of the metal at room temperature and the rapid motion held to be characteristic of the classical deity.
Mercurial was formerly used to designate those born under the planet Mercury; having the qualities (identical with those assigned to or supposed to be inspired by the god Mercury) considered to be a consequence of this, as eloquence, ingenuity, aptitude for commerce. In current usage, it means subject to sudden or unpredictable changes of mood or mind; although these qualities were originally associated with the god, the allusion is now generally understood as referring to the properties of mercury as a metal.

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Mercury

Mercury

Also popularly known as quicksilver. Known for many centuries, the metal has played an important part in the history of alchemy. In its refined state it forms a coherent, very mobile liquid that at ordinary room temparature was a well-known unique substance. The early alchemists believed that nature formed all metals from mercury, and that it was a living and feminine principle. It went through many processes, and the metal that evolved was pure or impure according to the locality of its production.

The mercury of the philosophers' stone needed to be a purified and revivified form of the ordinary metal; as the Arabian alchemist Geber stated in his Summa perfectionis: "Mercury, taken as Nature produces it, is not our material or our physic, but it must be added to."

Mercury seems to have been an entirely different substance than any ordinary metal or chemical element. Depending upon one's interprepation of alchemy as a system of spiritual growth, mercury could be one of several substances or states of consciousness.

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Mercury

Mer·cu·ry / ˈmərkyərē/ 1. Roman Mythol. the Roman god of eloquence, skill, trading, and thieving, herald and messenger of the gods, who was identified with Hermes. ∎  used in names of newspapers and journals: the San Jose Mercury News. 2. Astron. a small planet that is the closest to the sun in the solar system, sometimes visible to the naked eye just after sunset. 3. a series of space missions, launched by the U.S. from 1958 to 1963, that achieved the first U.S. manned spaceflights. DERIVATIVES: Mer·cu·ri·an / mərˈkyoŏrēən/ adj.

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mercury

mercury (M-) Roman divinity identified with the Gr. Hermes, god of eloquence, messenger of the gods, patron of traders and roads, guide of departed souls (hence messenger, guide XVI); planet nearest the sun; quicksilver; (after L. herba mercurialis) plant-name. XIV. — L. Mercurius, orig. god of commerce, f. merx, merc- MERCHANDISE; the application to the planet appears in classL., and like other names of planets, Mercurius became in medL. the name of a metal.
So mercurial XIV. — (O)F. or L.

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Mercury (in Roman religion)

Mercury, in Roman religion, god of commerce and messenger of the gods; identified with the Greek Hermes. He was honored at the Mercuralia, a festival held in May and attended primarily by traders and merchants.

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