Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Winged Mercury Caduceus

Winged Mercury CaduceusMercury by Giambologna (1529-1608 Flemish) Bronze Bargello National Museum, Florence, Italy, Renaissance sculpture, WINGED MERCURY. In the National Museum, Floreno

Giambologna, born as Jean Boulogne, also known as Giovanni Da Bologna and Giovanni Bologna (1529 - August 13, 1608), was a sculptor, known for his marble and bronze statuary in a late Renaissance or Mannerist style.
Image from Title: Language lessons from literature, Book 1. Webster-Cooley language series Language Lessons from Literature, Alice Woodworth Cooley, Authors: Alice Woodworth Cooley, William Franklin Webster. Publisher: Houghton Mifflin and Co., 1903

This image is in the public domain in the United States, where Works published prior to 1978 were copyright protected for a maximum of 75 years. See Circular 1 "COPYRIGHT BASICS" PDF from the U.S. Copyright Office. Works published before 1923 are now in the public domain.

The original three-dimensional work shown in this image is free content because: This image (or other media file) is in the public domain because its copyright has expired.

This applies to the United States, where Works published prior to 1978 were copyright protected for a maximum of 75 years. See Circular 1 "COPYRIGHT BASICS" PDF from the U.S. Copyright Office. Works published before 1924 are now in the public domain and also in countries that figure copyright from the date of death of the artist (post mortem auctoris in this case Giambologna 1529-1608) and that most commonly run for a period of 50 to 70 years from December 31st of that year.

In the far-off days when the gods dwelt among men, it was necessary that they should have some one to act as their agent and to be their messenger. On account of his special fitness, Mercury was chosen. For it is said that Mercury, who was the patron god of merchants, was very shrewd in making a bargain. Indeed, there were few men who could beat this youth in making a trade, so that the gods fared very well in their dealing with men. Whenever he was sent far away as a messenger, he put on his winged cap and bound on his winged sandals. Then taking the magic wand, which Apollo had given him, and throwing over his shoulders the cloak which made him invisible, he flew like the wind to do his errand.

Mercury did not have to work all the time; and one day, wandering by the seashore, his sandal struck a shell. It gave out a pretty sound. Then Mercury thought that if he could put strings upon it, he could draw from it sweet music. This he did, and he called the beautiful instrument a lyre. This lyre he gave to Apollo in exchange for the caduceus, or magic wand.

Mercury's business was not all with mortals on earth; sometimes his errands took him to the dark regions under the earth. It was Mercm-y who went to Pluto's realm to bring back to Ceres her daughter Proserpina. And it was he who guided the worn-out souls of men through the dark parts of Hades, past the gates of the sun, and out into the flowery meads of asphodel.


Apollo, the half brother of Mercury, was the god of light and music. He, too, had invented a stringed musical instrument, and he felt that Mercury's lyre should belong to him. So one day, after Mercury had been playing some mischievous pranks that greatly annoyed him and had merrily pleaded innocence, Apollo said : —

" I forgive you. In token of our friendship, let us exchange gifts. I will give you my magic wand, and you give me your lyre. But you must promise to give up with it the power to move men by sweet sounds. I, in turn, will yield to you the power that lies in this magic wand. It can bring harmony and peace out of discord and strife. Wherever animals or people are quarreling, you need only to cast this wand before them, and quarrels will cease."

So the exchange was made, and ever after Apollo carried the lyre, or harp, — the emblem of music; and Mercury carried the caduceus, or magic wand, — the emblem of friendship and peace.

One day Mercury threw the wand on the ground where two snakes were fighting. They at once twined lovingly about it. And ever after Mercury kept them there in token of the power of the wand.

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