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Mercury in Fact and Fiction

Mercury in Fact and Fiction

Mercury is the Latin name for the "messenger god" of legend. But he is more than an anachronism of western culture. His image has inspired astronomers, automobile manufacturers and even comic book authors. This website explores the "idea" of Mercury while investigating its various manifestations.

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The messenger god plays a pivotal roll in many Roman and Greek legends. He has a distinct personality and function that combine to make him an appealing figure.

Mercury lent his name to the planet Mercury because early astronomers believed that the planet moved faster than the other planets.

But Mercury was not limited to celestial beings. He would also give his name to a liquid metal sometimes called quicksilver.

Yet the heavens would hold their grip on him. The Mercury Missions were so named not because they were going anywhere near the planet, but because they would serve as a means to achieving man's first steps on the moon which would culminate in the Apollo Missions.

But Mercury would prove, ultimately, to also have a dark side. Mercury poisoning became a great worry for seafood processors when it was found that the element had a bad effect on human health. Which would have surprised many medieval and later doctors who often used it as a medicine.

Mercury would be adopted as a line of automobiles built by the Ford Motor Company meant to bridge the gap between Ford and Lincoln.

Mercury's modern image, on the whole, was positive as his name would also be borrowed for a boat manufacturer, newspapers, a theatrical group, and his regalia would be borrowed for comic book heroes and florist logos.

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