Mercurial, I knew about, and the tricksterishness. But I hadn’t encompassed Mercury’s full spectrum – the god of culture, but also the ‘humanizing force’. I will light a candle to any humanizing force. And as an ‘irrepressible trickster and joker’, he probably qualifies as the god of court fools and jesters.
‘Humorless is the last thing Mercury is. Mercury is an irrepressible trickster and joker, who even brings a laugh out of the solemn Apollo when he pulls off the amazing trick of stealing the sun god’s cattle.’
‘Mercury, in fact, is nothing less than the god of culture – the force that gives beauty and polish, not just in the realm of the arts but in sports and physical training too, to the manners of men. In fact, you could say he is the force that makes men men and women women – the humanizing force. Without the arts of Mercury men are like wild beasts.’
And I very much like the drawing I found online, apparently in the public domain, of a bounding fleet-of-foot Mercury. (And yes, if you are the copyright holder, please do get in touch …)
See also the quote-mosaic review of Harry Eyres splendid book demonstrating the continuing relevance of Horace.
Source: Harry Eyres, Horace and Me: Life Lessons from an Ancient Poet (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013), pp. 174 and 173
Image credit: drawing of Mercury – public domain – imgarcade.com