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Author Topic: Hermes and Mercury (We go 'round again)  (Read 6046 times)

NibbleKat

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Hermes and Mercury (We go 'round again)
« on: July 31, 2012, 03:28:21 pm »
Okay. I know I've read (at least at the old Cauldron site) a thread regarding Hermes vs. Mercury.  I know that people are very polar about Hermes not being Mercury.  But the more I'm reading on my short little lunch break, the less I'm seeing the differences. I've seen that Mercury might have been possibly based on the Etruscan god Turms, but didn't evolve from a direct local god, perhaps also?

The Romans re-wrote a lot of his stories and myths, so it all gets tangled for me.

So much of what Hermes does is what Mercury does.  Could someone tell me (with reliable sources for me to look at, if possible) where to find things I can put my finger on that will really show me that the two aren't one, that Hermes didn't just wiggle his wily little way into the Roman pantheon?  I know a lot might rely on UPG, but I'm less interested in that, because my UPG right now is saying that they're the same (even if the rest of the Roman pantheon is NOT the Greek one).  I work better when it comes to things like this with sources, rather than UPG... That comes later!

Hallllp! :confused:
« Last Edit: July 31, 2012, 03:29:16 pm by NibbleKat »
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Nachtigall

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Re: Hermes and Mercury (We go 'round again)
« Reply #1 on: July 31, 2012, 03:51:24 pm »
Quote from: NibbleKat;66818
Okay. I know I've read (at least at the old Cauldron site) a thread regarding Hermes vs. Mercury.  I know that people are very polar about Hermes not being Mercury.  But the more I'm reading on my short little lunch break, the less I'm seeing the differences. I've seen that Mercury might have been possibly based on the Etruscan god Turms, but didn't evolve from a direct local god, perhaps also?

The Romans re-wrote a lot of his stories and myths, so it all gets tangled for me.

So much of what Hermes does is what Mercury does.  Could someone tell me (with reliable sources for me to look at, if possible) where to find things I can put my finger on that will really show me that the two aren't one, that Hermes didn't just wiggle his wily little way into the Roman pantheon?  I know a lot might rely on UPG, but I'm less interested in that, because my UPG right now is saying that they're the same (even if the rest of the Roman pantheon is NOT the Greek one).  I work better when it comes to things like this with sources, rather than UPG... That comes later!

Hallllp! :confused:


What type of sources do you wish to see?
The issue of hard/soft/in-between polytheism is based in individual theological beliefs... I can't think of any way that it can be proved or disproved by archeological sources.

SkySamuelle

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Re: Hermes and Mercury (We go 'round again)
« Reply #2 on: July 31, 2012, 04:19:01 pm »
Quote from: NibbleKat;66818
Okay. I know I've read (at least at the old Cauldron site) a thread regarding Hermes vs. Mercury.  I know that people are very polar about Hermes not being Mercury.  But the more I'm reading on my short little lunch break, the less I'm seeing the differences. I've seen that Mercury might have been possibly based on the Etruscan god Turms, but didn't evolve from a direct local god, perhaps also?

The Romans re-wrote a lot of his stories and myths, so it all gets tangled for me.

So much of what Hermes does is what Mercury does.  Could someone tell me (with reliable sources for me to look at, if possible) where to find things I can put my finger on that will really show me that the two aren't one, that Hermes didn't just wiggle his wily little way into the Roman pantheon?  I know a lot might rely on UPG, but I'm less interested in that, because my UPG right now is saying that they're the same (even if the rest of the Roman pantheon is NOT the Greek one).  I work better when it comes to things like this with sources, rather than UPG... That comes later!

Hallllp! :confused:

 
My only direct experience is with Hermes, but intuitively I keep dissociating Him from Mercury so wholly that I am nearly amused. A lot of it for me is the fact Hermes as I know Him is a gentle -until He favors it, at least- trickster and the lord of chance - Mercury is the patron of a blogger I follow, and reading her account on Him helped me to grasp the differences a bit better:

 http://wanderingwomanwondering.wordpress.com/divine-guides/the-god-mercury/

Intuitively, my mind keeps thinking of Mercury as more 'domestic', more associated with commercial ventures than the changing tides of luck (and Hermes is that shift of tides between good and bad fortune for me).

Wandering Woman introduces Mercury as a god of exchange in all forms, and that includes comunication ... there are a lot of links to articles related solely to Mercurius on the bottom of her post, so there's more than UPG to read here.
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Re: Hermes and Mercury (We go 'round again)
« Reply #3 on: July 31, 2012, 05:39:49 pm »
Quote from: Nachtigall;66822
What type of sources do you wish to see?
The issue of hard/soft/in-between polytheism is based in individual theological beliefs... I can't think of any way that it can be proved or disproved by archeological sources.

 
Yeah, those are the types that I'd like to see... archaeolgical or something in a text contemporary to the Romans/Greeks, etc...
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Re: Hermes and Mercury (We go 'round again)
« Reply #4 on: July 31, 2012, 06:31:08 pm »
Quote from: SkySamuelle;66833
My only direct experience is with Hermes, but intuitively I keep dissociating Him from Mercury so wholly that I am nearly amused. A lot of it for me is the fact Hermes as I know Him is a gentle -until He favors it, at least- trickster and the lord of chance - Mercury is the patron of a blogger I follow, and reading her account on Him helped me to grasp the differences a bit better:

 http://wanderingwomanwondering.wordpress.com/divine-guides/the-god-mercury/

Intuitively, my mind keeps thinking of Mercury as more 'domestic', more associated with commercial ventures than the changing tides of luck (and Hermes is that shift of tides between good and bad fortune for me).

Wandering Woman introduces Mercury as a god of exchange in all forms, and that includes comunication ... there are a lot of links to articles related solely to Mercurius on the bottom of her post, so there's more than UPG to read here.


AM coming back to this; no time now, but maybe tomorrow. Sneaking a peek at work right now. Heheheh.
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Re: Hermes and Mercury (We go 'round again)
« Reply #5 on: July 31, 2012, 11:19:26 pm »
Quote from: NibbleKat;66818

So much of what Hermes does is what Mercury does.  Could someone tell me (with reliable sources for me to look at, if possible) where to find things I can put my finger on that will really show me that the two aren't one, that Hermes didn't just wiggle his wily little way into the Roman pantheon?  I know a lot might rely on UPG, but I'm less interested in that, because my UPG right now is saying that they're the same (even if the rest of the Roman pantheon is NOT the Greek one).  I work better when it comes to things like this with sources, rather than UPG... That comes later!

Hallllp! :confused:

 
I'm sort of in the same boat but coming from the other side, looking at Celtic guys who were syncretized with Mercury, so I'm not sure if any of this is going to be helpful to you, but here's some things I've dug up in my web-travels:

Here's an essay on Ceisiwr Serith's website about Cernunnos, I think aiming for identifying an Indo-European god of Between Things, with some discussion and images of how Mercury gets represented in places where the Romans came in contact with other cultures.

This is a French site from an archaeology group with a rundown of the shift in statuary from really Hellenistic attributes to really Gallic ones. I just used Chrome's translate function and I can preeetty much follow what they're saying, grammar oddities aside.

Turms seems really hard to pin down? Possibly because the Etruscans seemed to collect foreign cultural ideas like magpies, but from what I can tell he might have originally been way more chthonic than Hermes or Mercury, generally, but his role got expanded in later times. This blog has some good notes on how to approach Etruscan mythology, I think.

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Re: Hermes and Mercury (We go 'round again)
« Reply #6 on: August 01, 2012, 03:01:51 pm »
Quote from: SkySamuelle;66833
My only direct experience is with Hermes, but intuitively I keep dissociating Him from Mercury so wholly that I am nearly amused. A lot of it for me is the fact Hermes as I know Him is a gentle -until He favors it, at least- trickster and the lord of chance - Mercury is the patron of a blogger I follow, and reading her account on Him helped me to grasp the differences a bit better:

 http://wanderingwomanwondering.wordpress.com/divine-guides/the-god-mercury/

Intuitively, my mind keeps thinking of Mercury as more 'domestic', more associated with commercial ventures than the changing tides of luck (and Hermes is that shift of tides between good and bad fortune for me).

Wandering Woman introduces Mercury as a god of exchange in all forms, and that includes comunication ... there are a lot of links to articles related solely to Mercurius on the bottom of her post, so there's more than UPG to read here.


I've been able to get halfway through the blog post so far (no net access at home means I'm at the mercy of when I can get on here at work), and the bits I've read still sound like Hermes. However, I am not ALL the way through, so my opinion may change. Thanks for the links.
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Re: Hermes and Mercury (We go 'round again)
« Reply #7 on: August 01, 2012, 03:04:50 pm »
Quote from: LiminalAuggie;66893
I'm sort of in the same boat but coming from the other side, looking at Celtic guys who were syncretized with Mercury, so I'm not sure if any of this is going to be helpful to you, but here's some things I've dug up in my web-travels:

Here's an essay on Ceisiwr Serith's website about Cernunnos, I think aiming for identifying an Indo-European god of Between Things, with some discussion and images of how Mercury gets represented in places where the Romans came in contact with other cultures.

This is a French site from an archaeology group with a rundown of the shift in statuary from really Hellenistic attributes to really Gallic ones. I just used Chrome's translate function and I can preeetty much follow what they're saying, grammar oddities aside.

Turms seems really hard to pin down? Possibly because the Etruscans seemed to collect foreign cultural ideas like magpies, but from what I can tell he might have originally been way more chthonic than Hermes or Mercury, generally, but his role got expanded in later times. This blog has some good notes on how to approach Etruscan mythology, I think.

 
Will try to explore these links soon-- thank you for them.  The one thing that I was thinking about this morning on the way to work re: Hermes/MERCURY/Gaul/Celts is that yes, the Romans stuck Mercury's name on a lot of Celtic gods, which would have meant something different for the Celts... but what would it have meant to the Roman soldiers (providing they were actually Roman and not say, Germans in the Roman army, etc)? Would they have seen this "Mercury" as THEIR version, or would they have taken the grafted-onto-version and seen him as a different deity?  

It's hard for me to look at those statues of the Celtic deities that look like and are called Mercury and not just knee-jerk and say WOOHOO! It's MY god. Because he wasn't to so many folks back then... but like I said, who was he to the Roman "foreigners" in the region?
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Re: Hermes and Mercury (We go 'round again)
« Reply #8 on: August 01, 2012, 05:22:14 pm »
Quote from: LiminalAuggie;66893
I'm sort of in the same boat but coming from the other side, looking at Celtic guys who were syncretized with Mercury, so I'm not sure if any of this is going to be helpful to you, but here's some things I've dug up in my web-travels:

Here's an essay on Ceisiwr Serith's website about Cernunnos, I think aiming for identifying an Indo-European god of Between Things, with some discussion and images of how Mercury gets represented in places where the Romans came in contact with other cultures.

This is a French site from an archaeology group with a rundown of the shift in statuary from really Hellenistic attributes to really Gallic ones. I just used Chrome's translate function and I can preeetty much follow what they're saying, grammar oddities aside.


 Oh, boy. I really wish I knew French- and using Chrome like you, I still went a little cross-eyed at the translation. heheheh.
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Re: Hermes and Mercury (We go 'round again)
« Reply #9 on: August 02, 2012, 08:41:38 am »
Quote from: NibbleKat;66818
Okay. I know I've read (at least at the old Cauldron site) a thread regarding Hermes vs. Mercury.  I know that people are very polar about Hermes not being Mercury.  But the more I'm reading on my short little lunch break, the less I'm seeing the differences. I've seen that Mercury might have been possibly based on the Etruscan god Turms, but didn't evolve from a direct local god, perhaps also?

The Romans re-wrote a lot of his stories and myths, so it all gets tangled for me.

So much of what Hermes does is what Mercury does.  Could someone tell me (with reliable sources for me to look at, if possible) where to find things I can put my finger on that will really show me that the two aren't one, that Hermes didn't just wiggle his wily little way into the Roman pantheon?  I know a lot might rely on UPG, but I'm less interested in that, because my UPG right now is saying that they're the same (even if the rest of the Roman pantheon is NOT the Greek one).  I work better when it comes to things like this with sources, rather than UPG... That comes later!

Hallllp! :confused:


I had a Latin/Roman professor who told my class once that Mercury wasn't a native Italian god, just the Greek Hermes given a different name. I don't know any primary sources to back that up, but I have no doubt he knew what he was talking about.

Greek and Roman cultures were so connected, it's hard to completely distinguish between their gods, anyway. You have gods like Zeus and Jupiter who share origins as the Indo-Europeam sky father, not to mention that there were many Greek settlements in Italy when Rome was founded, so they had always been an influence. Roman culture had Etruscan influence, who themselves were highly influenced by Greek culture. Rome was primarily a mix of Latin, Etruscan, and Greek peoples and cultures, not its own separate group, so many aspects of Greek culture were part of Rome from the beginning, not to mention the Indo-European connection. Of course it did develop into its own unique culture, but it originated in part as an offshoot of Greek culture (as Greece was a Near Eastern offshoot), so even if one follows that trendy new age "hard" polytheism where every single deity with a different name is treated like an distinct individual, many Greek and Roman deities began as the same deity. Not all of them did, I think the major ones were Jupiter, Mercury, and Apollo. However, since the Romans equated their native gods with Greek deities (Venus with Aphrodite, etc.) they clearly saw cultural differences as superficial and believed the gods were the same in every culture, as the Greeks did with Mesopotamian and Egyptian gods.

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Re: Hermes and Mercury (We go 'round again)
« Reply #10 on: August 02, 2012, 11:41:26 am »
Quote from: Carnelian;67084
I had a Latin/Roman professor who told my class once that Mercury wasn't a native Italian god, just the Greek Hermes given a different name. I don't know any primary sources to back that up, but I have no doubt he knew what he was talking about.

Greek and Roman cultures were so connected, it's hard to completely distinguish between their gods, anyway. You have gods like Zeus and Jupiter who share origins as the Indo-Europeam sky father, not to mention that there were many Greek settlements in Italy when Rome was founded, so they had always been an influence. Roman culture had Etruscan influence, who themselves were highly influenced by Greek culture. Rome was primarily a mix of Latin, Etruscan, and Greek peoples and cultures, not its own separate group, so many aspects of Greek culture were part of Rome from the beginning, not to mention the Indo-European connection. Of course it did develop into its own unique culture, but it originated in part as an offshoot of Greek culture (as Greece was a Near Eastern offshoot), so even if one follows that trendy new age "hard" polytheism where every single deity with a different name is treated like an distinct individual, many Greek and Roman deities began as the same deity. Not all of them did, I think the major ones were Jupiter, Mercury, and Apollo. However, since the Romans equated their native gods with Greek deities (Venus with Aphrodite, etc.) they clearly saw cultural differences as superficial and believed the gods were the same in every culture, as the Greeks did with Mesopotamian and Egyptian gods.


I happen to be one of those trendy new age "hard" polytheists, actually.  But... a little soft around the edges.  As in, I don't believe that, say, a Native American mother deity is going to be the same being as a Celtic mother deity.  I just don't. I don't believe that all gods are aspects of a god and goddess who merge into one. I can't believe that. It doesn't make sense to me on a large-scale basis, trying to tie all of the deities in the world into one (or two) major god-head.  

I believe that, unless the god tells us that they are part of another one (say, the Irish triple-aspect deities, or the Hindu deities that have been clearly stated down through the centuries as aspects of gods...), that we cannot say that they are, just because we want them to be. Granted, I understand that there are many people who don't believe that; that's fine, I'm not trying to say that I want to change their view, not saying they are silly, because this is about belief but I do say that it's not right for me on a personal basis. There are tons of people who would say that I'm wrong, and that's fine, too, because I can say what I want, they can say what they want, and in the end, saying something doesn't change that person's belief (as long as it's not said in a OMG UR SO RONG U IDIOT sort of a way, which I hope I am NOT coming across as doing).

Having gotten the hard polytheism bit out of the way, however-- the "soft around the edges part?"  People travel. Ancient folks got around a lot. People bring with them their deities.  People with these deities meet other folks that are different in culture and customs to them, and they talk, and they share religious ideas and practices, and in that context, gods like Hermes might "morph" a little into Mercury.  Heck, look at Herm-Anubis statues, for an example.

So in a very conflicted light, I don't believe that all gods are the same, but I also don't believe that all gods are necessarily distinct from each other, completely, entirely.  Brigid? Brigitania? Pretty darned sure those are the same goddesses.  Danu and Don? Could and probably are.  And yet-- Rhiannon and Epona? To me, no.  Not from what I've read and that pesky critter, UPG.

SO.  That's why archaeological evidence is proving to be very important to me. If I ever, ever can piece together bits that definitely say, "God X came from here, influenced by cultures over there, and was renamed by this culture in this other area", I am a very, very happy camper.  Or when I come across something that states, "This goddess has very distinct iconography that has not been found anywhere else in the world (like Sequana on her duck boat-- sure, ducks with berries or offering cakes have been found in England and in parts of Continental Europe, but never with a woman riding on its back until Sequana of the Seine)," I am also happy.

What I'm trying to say is, although I am a hard polytheist, I agree with you. :)

Annnnnd, since I have yet (not that I won't at some point soon) to find any evidence other than UPG regarding Hermes not being Mercury, I am inclining more toward the two are the same...
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Re: Hermes and Mercury (We go 'round again)
« Reply #11 on: August 02, 2012, 01:32:13 pm »
Quote from: NibbleKat;67102
Annnnnd, since I have yet (not that I won't at some point soon) to find any evidence other than UPG regarding Hermes not being Mercury, I am inclining more toward the two are the same...

 
I work with Hermes; I also work with Lugh, who imo is either the same as or is a cognate-brother of Lugus', who was syncretized with Mercury. So I don't actually work with Mercury, but I've done some digging.

I'm going to sidetrack with a story, but I promise it has a point.

My ex-bf S had a very close friend, E. They had been friends since they were 8 or 9; I met them when they were 18 or 19, so they'd been around each other for a while. The first time I met E, it was actually unsettling- when he got frustrated, his voice pitch matched S's; their laugh was the same, the way they leaned when playing video games was the same. They played all the same games, listened to all the same music, watched all the same tv shows, built computers together. They even had similar haircuts and dressed the same. But they weren't related, and their elementary school photos- and photos of them in the early years of their friendship- showed two very distinctly different boys.

But they found out they had a few things in common and became friends, and the longer they hung out the more they became alike. They never intentionally copied the other- it was just a natural byproduct of spending all their free time together.

I think that Hermes and Mercury are the same. They came from different places, different cultures, but they had things in common in the beginning, and the more time passed, the more they seemed to be the same. Without a physical body, I think it's much easier to confuse/conflate them, because you're just going off of energy and feelings and some historical stuff that isn't wholly clear to begin with. And their personalities are such that I don't think it would ever bother them to be confused with the other- if nothing else, it would probably amuse them.

Just my two cents. :)
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Re: Hermes and Mercury (We go 'round again)
« Reply #12 on: August 02, 2012, 02:22:55 pm »
Quote from: Juni;67109
I work with Hermes; I also work with Lugh, who imo is either the same as or is a cognate-brother of Lugus', who was syncretized with Mercury. So I don't actually work with Mercury, but I've done some digging.

I'm going to sidetrack with a story, but I promise it has a point.

My ex-bf S had a very close friend, E. They had been friends since they were 8 or 9; I met them when they were 18 or 19, so they'd been around each other for a while. The first time I met E, it was actually unsettling- when he got frustrated, his voice pitch matched S's; their laugh was the same, the way they leaned when playing video games was the same. They played all the same games, listened to all the same music, watched all the same tv shows, built computers together. They even had similar haircuts and dressed the same. But they weren't related, and their elementary school photos- and photos of them in the early years of their friendship- showed two very distinctly different boys.

But they found out they had a few things in common and became friends, and the longer they hung out the more they became alike. They never intentionally copied the other- it was just a natural byproduct of spending all their free time together.

I think that Hermes and Mercury are the same. They came from different places, different cultures, but they had things in common in the beginning, and the more time passed, the more they seemed to be the same. Without a physical body, I think it's much easier to confuse/conflate them, because you're just going off of energy and feelings and some historical stuff that isn't wholly clear to begin with. And their personalities are such that I don't think it would ever bother them to be confused with the other- if nothing else, it would probably amuse them.

Just my two cents. :)

 
I can see where you're coming from with this one.  Many of the Celtic water deities that I've read about/come in contact with are very, very similar in this ...er... similarity (ha!) aspect.  They're 'sisters', twins almost.  And as I do more work with Hermes (I've gotten lazy--after 15 years of working with him, I got the arrogant and wrong idea that I knew him. Fuh. Yeah. Right!), I might find that he is, indeed, not Mercury, and I'm perfectly fine if that comes up in UPG context.  I'm not at all married to the idea of HE HAS TO BE MERCURY! *head deflates*.

But it is, understandably, harder for me to be able to know less going on UPG.  

If I am going on UPG only, there's an idea I like to come back to every once in a while, regarding gods that cross cultures because their people cross cultures; humans are basically the same folks more or less in their adulthood in regards to personality and mannerisms and whatnot.  Still, they move from job to job. In one job, they might be Barista Jane.  In their next, they're Tea House Jane. And after that, they're Waitress Jane.

Same Jane, different but similar jobs, different titles.  

Soooo. Confusing. Confused. 'Round and round, as it were. :)

My semi-soft polytheism is having a boxing round with my hard polytheism, and UPG is trying to referee.
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Re: Hermes and Mercury (We go 'round again)
« Reply #13 on: August 02, 2012, 07:16:33 pm »
Quote from: NibbleKat;67113

If I am going on UPG only, there's an idea I like to come back to every once in a while, regarding gods that cross cultures because their people cross cultures; humans are basically the same folks more or less in their adulthood in regards to personality and mannerisms and whatnot.  Still, they move from job to job. In one job, they might be Barista Jane.  In their next, they're Tea House Jane. And after that, they're Waitress Jane.

Same Jane, different but similar jobs, different titles.  

Soooo. Confusing. Confused. 'Round and round, as it were. :)

My semi-soft polytheism is having a boxing round with my hard polytheism, and UPG is trying to referee.

 
So, reading this thread, the line "What's your name when you're at home?" popped into my head, from the game of questions in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. I haven't thought of that play in years but it seems really apt here. Does Hermes just go by a different name when He's in a different area and performing a slightly different function for different people? Quite possibly. And I think even hard polytheism might soften a bit when it concerns tricksy jack-of-all-trades gods of travelers and outsiders who get around a lot.

The question I'm still gnawing on is basically whether "Gaulish Mercury" is Roman Mercury getting around to different areas, or is the "Mercury" job title just picked up by various other Celtic gods because there's an overlap of function. Round and round and round, and I expect the answer changes depending on which group of colonized/Romanized people are worshiping in which time period.

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Re: Hermes and Mercury (We go 'round again)
« Reply #14 on: August 03, 2012, 01:23:48 am »
Quote from: Carnelian;67084
... trendy new age "hard" polytheism....

 
:eek::confused:

I do not know of any current of the New Age that adheres to hard polytheism, nor is the idea that deities are distinct individuals a purely modern one.

While the Greeks and Romans were very fond of correlating other cultures' deities with their own, that doesn't mean those other cultures necessarily did the same, nor that they agreed with the Greeks' or the Romans' identification of their deities.

If you're suggesting that soft polytheism was the norm for all the ancient world (i.e., not just the Greeks and Romans), and that hard polytheism didn't appear until modern times - cite your sources, please.

If that's not what you're suggesting, the only other way I can read it is as a gratuitous jab at those who consider it more polite to not assume that deities with similar areas of influence are the same being.

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