Why Is Hermes Named Mercury?

Hermes, the Greek god of commerce, thieves, travelers, and boundaries is known by many names. However, one of his most famous names is Mercury.

This might seem odd at first because Mercury is the name of a planet in our solar system. But in this article, we’ll explore the reasons behind Hermes being named Mercury.

The Roman Connection

To begin with, it’s important to know that Hermes was not just a Greek god but was also worshipped by the Romans. The Romans had their own version of Hermes which they called Mercurius. The similarities between the two gods were striking – they both had wings on their helmet or sandals and were messengers of the gods.

The God of Commerce

One key reason why Hermes was named Mercury is because he was also considered as the god of commerce by the Romans. In Roman mythology, Mercurius was believed to oversee financial gains and losses and was often depicted holding a bag or purse filled with coins. This connection to commerce and money made it easy for the Romans to equate their own deity with Hermes.

The Planet Connection

Another reason why Hermes was named Mercury is that the planet itself played an important role in Roman culture. The planet Mercury was named after Mercurius because it appeared to move quickly across the sky just like how Mercurius was believed to be swift-footed.

Influence on Language

The name Mercury has had a lasting impact on our language as well. The term “mercurial” means something unpredictable or subject to sudden changes just like how Hermes/Mercury could easily transition from being a messenger god to one that oversaw commerce.


In conclusion, there are several reasons why Hermes came to be known as Mercury by the Romans. His association with commerce and financial gains made it easy for the Romans to equate their own deity with Hermes, and the planet Mercury’s quick movement across the sky made it a fitting namesake for Mercurius. These connections have had a lasting impact on our language and culture, making Mercury an important figure in both mythology and science.