ANCIENT SYMBOLS


Caduceus
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Caduceus

A caduceus or Wand of Hermes is a typically depicted short herald's staff entwined by two snakes in the form of a double helix. In addition this staff is often winged. It was an ancient astrological symbol of commerce and is often depicted being carried in the left hand of Greek god Hermes, also known in Ancient Egypt as Thoth, the messenger and herald of the gods, conductor of the dead and protector of merchants and thieves.

The link between Hermes and his caduceus and medicine seems to have arisen by Hermes links with alchemy. Alchemists were referred to as the sons of Hermes, as Hermetists or Hermeticists and as "practitioners of the hermetic arts". By the end of the sixteenth century, the study of alchemy included not only medicine and pharmaceuticals but chemistry, mining and metallurgy. Despite learned opinion that it is the single snake staff of Asclepius that is the proper symbol of medicine, many medical groups have adopted the twin serpent caduceus of Hermes or Mercury as a medical symbol during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.


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