This article accompanies the fable
Above left is a 17th century Flemish statue of Mercury holding the caduceus and a drawstring purse. At his feet are some of his other symbols, the rooster and the goat. Above right is a "herma" (or "herme"), a common roadside marker for travelers in Ancient Greece. Over the centuries the frank sexual aspects were transposed into the caduceus and the saucy pose.
Hermes is sometimes regarded as androgynous and, combined with his female counterpart Aphrodite, we have the legend of Hermaphroditus, their son, who, while bathing, became one with the nymph Salmacis. As a phallic god, he also has became a gay icon. Is there a message in the sculptures below? On the left is the Hermes from the Grand Cascade at the Peterhof in Saint Petersburg. On the right is Michelangelo's David in Florence, which may be David but the pose could be Hermes'.
In the Tarot, Mercury is associated with the Magician; in astrology, the planet represents the intellect, curiosity and communication; in alchemy he is associated with Hermes Trismegistus. And he appears in the Odyssey: here.
Copyrights: top left: Amsterdam Municipal Department for the Preservation and Restoration of Historic Buildings and Sites. Top right: Ricardo André Frantz. Bottom left: Yair Haklai. Bottom right: David Gaya.