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with wings at the top, and a couple of serpents entwined about it. The virtues of this wand were such that every thing it touched, when awake, would sink into sleep, and when asleep, would awaken. When

it was applied to the dying, their spirit separated gently from the mortal frame; but when applied to the dead, they returned to life. It also had the power of settling controversies: two implacable enemies, when moved with it, instantly become reconciled. He saw two serpents fighting, and when he laid his wand between them, they regarded each other with eyes of affection, and entwined themselves around it.

Mercury was represented in a variety of ways: most commonly, however, as a naked youth, standing on tip-toe, having on his head a winged hat, called Petasus, and on his feet, winged sandals, called Talaria. He held in one hand his rod, and in the other, a purse. See Fig. 30.

Mercury had many children. The most celebrated were Hermaphroditus by Venus, and Pan by Penelope, the wife of Ulysses.

The animals sacred to Mercury, were the goat and the dog. Offerings of milk and honey were made to him, and the tongues were burnt on his altar with great solemnity, because he was the god of eloquence. The Roman merchants annually celebrated his festival in a temple near the circus Maximus.

Mercury was called Hermes by the Greeks, because he was the god of rhetoricians and orators; Cyllenius, either from the name of Mount Cyllenus on which he was born, or because his statues had neither hands nor feet; Nomius, on account of the laws of which he was the author; Camillus, because he served the gods; Caduceator, because he bore the caduceus; Vialis, because he presided over highways; Dolius, because he patronized fraud and treachery.


-The god who mounts the winged winds,
Fast to his feet the golden pinions binds,
That high through fields of air his flight sustain,
O'er the wide earth, and o'er the boundless main;
He grasps the wand that causes sleep to fly,


Or in soft slumbers seals the wakeful eye;
Then shoots from heav'n to high Pieria's steep,
And stoops incumbent on the rolling deep."-Homer.
"Hermes obeys; with golden pinions binds
His flying feet, and mounts the western winds,
And, whether o'er the seas or earth he flies,
With rapid force they bear him down the skies.
But first he grasps, within his awful hand,
The mark of sov'reign pow'r, his magic wand:
With this he draws the souls from hollow graves;
With this he drives them down the Stygian waves;
With this he seals in sleep the wakeful sight


And eyes, though clos'd in death, restores to light."—VIRGIL.
"Thee, wing-foot, all the gods, both high and low,
The arbiter of war and peace allow.;'-OVID.

Obs. 1.-He who has furnished the poets with most materials for fable, is Mercury Trismegistus, or three. times great, king of Egypt, who lived a little after Moses. He was the author of ancient books on religion, which the Egyptians carefully preserved.

Obs. 2.-To understand the historical sense of the fable of Mercury, we must recollect that the ancients, not critical observers of chronology, confounded several Mercuries into one. The Mercury, son of Maia, and grandson of Atlas, reigned after Jupiter, his father, in a part of Italy and Gaul. The qualities of his mind were such that he was accounted the god of thieves, as well as the inventor of several arts; for he was sly, dissembling, crafty, and cunning. He consulted the learned, and profitted by their discourses to instruct himself in the sciences and arts. The delicate negociations in which he was employed, caused him to be deemed the interpreter and messenger of the gods. The Gauls honoured him under the name of Theutates, and offered him human victims. The Egyptians worshipped him under the name of Thaut.

Who was Mercury?


Where was Mercury born?

What actions are recorded of him?

What other actions are attributed to him?

What are the attributes of Mercury?
In what manner was Mercury represented?
Had Mercury any children?

What were the sacrifices offered to Mercury?
By what different names was Mercury called?



THE wants and necessities of life are continually recurring. To have them unsupplied, causes death. Hence the most unenlightened nations have sought out some supernatural beings to preside over their fortunes and destinies; and hence, too, every element has had its divinity. But the gross ignorance of miserable beings groping in nature's darkness, has rendered it impossible for them to form just conceptions of a pure, spiritual, and holy Supreme Being who is worthy to receive their highest adorations: and hence we find in all the gods of the heathens, an incongruous jumble of spiritual and carnal, divine and human essence;a compound of corruption and incorruption, of the mighty and the feeble, of noble and ignoble, of the fascinating and the disgusting, of the amiable and the execrable, of good and evil.

Thus, the Egyptians gave the name of Osiris and Isis to the sun and moon. cause he commanded the fleet of Jupiter, became the god Neptune, celebrated beof the seas. Every river, every fountain, every collection of water had its particular deity. This worship varied according to the customs and opinions of the different nations, but the worship of water was general. The Egyptians held the sea in horror, because it represented to them the tremendous Typhon. They reserved their whole veneration for the waters of the Nile. They named this river Ocean, Ypeus, or Nileus, and often Siris, by an abbreviation of Osiris.

Among them this river, or, rather, the god of the water, was represented by a vessel, full of holes, which they called HYDRIA. The Persians having pretended to sustain the pre-eminence of fire, their great divinity, the Egyptian priests accepted the challenge. The Hydria was placed on a hot coal fire, but the holes of the vessel, skilfully closed with wax, let escape the water it contained, and the Nile was victorious. From that time nothing equalled the respect of the Egyptians for the Hydria, which they also called Canopus, their god. According to them, the Nile, or water in general, was the principle of all things, and it only gave motion and life to all that breathes.

The Indians rendered the Ganges divine honours. This superstition still lasts, and the princes who reign on the banks of this river, make their subjects pay for the right of bathing and drawing water from it. Almost all the inhabitants of the earth have libations to the ocean, seas, fountains, and rivers. The most astonishing effects were attributed to the water, and the poets infinitely extended this sort of idolatrous worship by adding to it the charms and graces of their fictions. Hence sprang the sea deities whose number surpassed those of heaven and other parts of the universe. Oceanus had by Tethys, seventy-two nymphs, named Oceanides; Nereus, fifty Nereides, whose names Hesiod mentions. The same poet makes the number of the nymphs of the waters amount even to three thousand; and if the Naiades, the Napex, the Limniades, &c. &c. be added, we shall find that the deities of the water were innumerable. We shall pre

sent a few of the most important fables belonging to this part of mythology.


Oceanus, Nereus.

OCEANUS, a powerful sea deity, was the son of Colus and Terra. He was considered as the first god of

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