MercuryMercury was the messenger of the gods on Mount Olympus. He can be recognised by his dress: he wears winged sandals, a winged hat, and carries a caduceus, a winged wand with two snakes entwined round it.
It was Mercury who brought Paris to judge the beauty of the three goddesses, and who handed Venus the golden apple of discord when she was judged to be the winner.
He was also credited with the qualities of reason and eloquence, which made him a suitable teacher for Cupid in Correggio's 'School of Love'.
He is in addition the god of trade. On account of his swift movement, the volatile metal mercury is named after him.
The National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DN