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Mercury in Mythology
Question was asked:
As a non-expert in mythology can somebody tell me the role of Mercury, 'Messenger of the Gods' was in all these events?
David Talbott replied: For years I tried to find the distinction between "Mercury" as messenger and the "warrior-hero" (Mars) as messenger. I could never find a basis for separating the two. Eventually, I concluded that the effort was misplaced, that there is no distinction between the stories. It's a bit like Sol and Saturn, or Helios and Kronos. They hold the same story and are in fact the same gods. But why is one story or identity attached to two different celestial bodies? It's simply the way symbolism evolved.
When the ancient celestial order dissolved, every body seen in the sky was asked to play a role as SYMBOL of what was remembered but no longer present. Our Sun became the natural symbol of the former central luminary, Saturn, thus receiving Saturn's name as well. The Moon took its name from the primeval crescent on Saturn. The star Sirius, the brightest star in the sky, took its name from the radiant Venus, the "prototype" of stars visible in the sky before any stars were seen (while the very words for "star" descended from the Venus-goddess as well). All of the constellations received their names from the gods (or attributes of gods) in the former epoch. While Heracles was a Greek name of Mars, it also became the name of a constellation. There was a Bull of Heaven (pillar and crescent) long before the Bull gave its name to the vaguely-defined star group now called Taurus.
It was only natural that a little star eventually discovered as a companion to our Sun should be assigned those attributes of the warrior hero relating to the hero's role as tiny companion (messenger, scribe, servant, assistant) to the primeval sun, Saturn. As a general rule, in the progressive elaboration of symbolism, the attributes of the symbolic object will tend to scale down the original story. Aspects of the original story which cannot be meaningfully expressed by the familiar symbolic object will tend to be shed over time. The world mountain was also the "underworld" river and the luminous nether "wind". But once its name was attached to a sacred, commemorative, local mountain, the idea that THAT mountain could be a river or a wind would make no sense.
Though the history of the warrior hero included much more than his role as "little companion" to the primeval sun, the unique position of Mercury tended to highlight that role in its relation to our Sun. The planet can be viewed as one of many natural symbols in our world pointing back to attributes of the warrior-hero in the myth-making epoch.