The patron of trade

This little bronze statuette presents one of the most common images of Mercury. This god was not renowned for his power or violent character, but was a simple messenger who needed to travel swiftly, so was very often represented as a young man, as he is here.
He is depicted wearing a chlamys (the Greek name for his short cloak). This type of garment was not specific to Mercury, but indicates the god’s activity, being perfectly suitable for running and swift movements. The volume of the body beneath the chlamys was particularly skillfully suggested by the artist who made this statuette.
He holds a purse full of coins in his right hand. We know that Mercury was the patron of traders: this purse symbolises the profits of commerce, and the wealth that the god could bring when duly honoured.