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What is this medical symbol called?

November 6, 2007

A caduceus (/kəˈduːsiəs/, -ʃəs, -ˈdjuː-; kerykeion in Greek is a (sometimes) winged staff with two snakes wrapped around it. It was an ancient astrological symbol of commerce and is associated with the Greek god Hermes, the messenger for the gods, conductor of the dead and protector of merchants and thieves. It was originally a herald’s staff, sometimes with wings, with two white ribbons attached. The ribbons eventually evolved into snakes. The caduceus is sometimes inaccurately used as a symbol for medicine, especially in North America, but the traditional medical symbol is the rod of Asclepius with only a single snake and no wings. The rest of it here…

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. November 6, 2007 4:39 pm

    I enjoyed reading your post. It is striking that the question of the Gods was central to classical medicine and much less so to us today.

    Andrés

  2. Amanda permalink
    February 26, 2008 10:18 pm

    I would just like to note that the actual medical symbol is not the caduceus but it is called the staff of Asclepius because of the history with Asclepius and his medical training.

  3. February 27, 2008 8:45 am

    @Amanda
    Interesting. Can you give us some more information about that…link?

  4. Natalia permalink
    November 9, 2008 2:07 am

    I would like to buy a symbol like this one as a charm. Do you know where can I go?
    It is for a present.
    Thanks!

  5. November 9, 2008 9:30 am

    @Natalia: I don’t know, but you can check on e-Bay.

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