Description:This bronze semuncia coin was minted in Rome in the late 3rd century BC. The semuncia was an ancient Roman bronze coin denomination produced during the Roman Republican era. It was issued until about 210 BC, at about the same time as the silver denarius was introduced.
This obverse side of this coin features the head of Mercury wearing a winged petasus hat. The reverse side shows the prow of a Roman galley. In Roman religion, Mercury was a major god and one of the 12 Dii Consentes in the pantheon of ancient Rome. Equated with the Greek god Hermes, Mercury was the god of messages, eloquence, trade, luck and trickery. He was also considered a god of abundance and commercial success. Mercury was the patron of travelers and the god of thievery; he also served as the guide of newly deceased souls to the afterlife.
Archeological evidence from Pompeii suggests that Mercury was among the most popular of Roman gods. Mercury's temple was built in Rome in 495 BC and was situated in the Circus Maximus chariot racing stadium. The temple was regarded as a fitting place to worship a swift god of trade and travel, since it was a major center of commerce as well as a racetrack. Every May 15th the Mercuralia "Festival of Mercury" was celebrated in Rome and merchants would sprinkle water taken from the sacred well of Mercury on their heads, their ships and merchandise.