Mercury (ˈmɜrkjʉri/; Latin: Mercurius) was a messenger who wore winged sandals, and a god of trade, thieves, and travel, the son of Maia Maiestas and Jupiter in Roman mythology. His name is related to the Latin word merx ("merchandise"; compare merchant, commerce, etc.), mercari (to trade), and merces (wages). In his earliest forms, he appears to have been related to the Etruscan deity Turms, but most of his characteristics and mythology were borrowed from the analogous Greek god, Hermes. Latin writers rewrote Hermes' myths and substituted his name with that of Mercury. However, there are at least two myths that involve Mercury that are Roman in origin. In Virgil's Aeneid, Mercury reminds Aeneas of his mission to found the city of Rome. In Ovid's Fasti, Mercury is assigned to escort the nymph Larunda to the underworld. Mercury, however, fell in love with Larunda and made love to her on the way; this act has also been interpreted as a rape. Larunda thereby became mother to two children, referred to as the Lares, invisible household gods.
Mercury has influenced the name of many things in a variety of scientific fields, such as the planet Mercury, and the element mercury. The word mercurial is commonly used to refer to something or someone erratic, volatile or unstable, derived from Mercury's swift flights from place to place. He is often depicted holding the Caduceus in his left hand.
Vulcan created a net out of unbreakable steel so that he could catch Venus, the goddess of beauty, and Mars, the god of war, in the act of making love. He was jealous of their relationship, because Venus was his wife. Vulcan managed to catch them but, afterwards, Mercury stole the net from the blacksmith god so that he could catch Cloris, a nymph whom he admired. Cloris was tasked with flying after the sun while it rose and scattering lilies, roses and violets behind it. Mercury lay in wait for at least several days until he caught her wing in the net over an unnamed great river in Ethiopia. Mercury then gave the net to the temple of Anubis at Canopus to protect the sacred spot. In Ludovico Ariosto's Orlando Furioso, the net is stolen 3,000 years later by Caligorant, who goes on to destroy the temple and the city