Last modified: 2011-12-23 by rob raeside
Keywords: aesculapius rod | caduceus |
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From the symbols.com website: http://www.symbols.com/encyclopedia/41b/41b33.html
"Caduceus, the staff of the two snakes, (...) is the attribute of Hermes (Greece) and of Mercurius (Rome). It has, on account of this, become a symbol for trade and communication."
And from http://www.symbols.com/encyclopedia/41a/41a12.html:
"In Greece Mercury was represented by Hermes, the quick-footed messenger
of the gods, often pictured with wings at his ankles. Hermes was symbolized by
the caduceus, the staff of the two snakes. (...) The staff of the snakes in Rome
became a symbol for trade and communications. This caduceus, or snakes' staff,
has been mixed up with the Aesculapii staff, with only one snake, a symbol for
the art of healing or medicine."
So in short, if the staff has:
- two snakes plus (optionally) wings at the top, it is a caduceus and stands for trade;
- one snake and nothing else, it is a rod of Aesculapius and stands for medicine.
Santiago Dotor, 12 February 2003
But it got mixed up for a good reason: As a symbol of communications, it was
used as a sort of white flag on the battlefield: These are messengers, do not
harm. It then spread to any non-belligerent on the battlefield, including
doctors- hence its use for military doctors and not many others (civilians tend
to use the Aesculapis).
Nathan Lamm, 12 February 2003