Published on March 6, 2014
CADUCEUS VISUAL REPRESENTATION OF MEDICAL PROFESSION Caduceus is the winged rod with double serpents, used as the representative symbol of medical profession worldwide A Study By Dr. Kabita Mishra | BHMS, MBA (Hospital) Senior Research Fellow (Homoeopathy) Central Research Institute for Homoeopathy | NOIDA | INDIA
INTRODUCTION The caduceus is the traditional symbol of Hermes and features two snakes winding around an often winged staff. It is often mistakenly used as a symbol of medicine instead of the Rod of Asclepius, especially in the United States. The two-snake caduceus design has ancient and consistent associations with trade, eloquence, trickery, and negotiation. Tangential association of the caduceus with medicine has occurred through the ages, where it was sometimes associated with-alchemy and wisdom. The caduceus as a symbol of medicine became established in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th century In 1854, this symbol was adopted by Great Britain, in United States of America’s Public Health Service adopted this symbol in 1889, the U.S. Army Medical Corps Branch Plaque adopted this symbol in 1902. This image is carved on a green steatite vase made for king Gudea of Lagash of Sumer (2200 – 2025 BCE) which is in the Louvre Museum, Paris
MYTHOLOGY The Homeric hymn to Hermes relates how Hermes offered his lyre fashioned from a tortoise shell as compensation for the cattle he stole from his half brother Apollo. Apollo in return gave Hermes the caduceus as a gesture of friendship. The association with the serpent thus connects Hermes to Apollo, as later the serpent was associated with Asclepius, the son of Apollo. The association of Apollo with the serpent is a continuation of the older Indo-European dragon-slayer motif. Wilhelm Heinrich Roscher in 1913, pointed out that the serpent as an attribute of both Hermes and Asclepius is a variant of the "pre-historic semi-chthonic serpent hero known at Delphi as Python", who in classical mythology is slain by Apollo. One Greek myth of origin of the caduceus is part of the story of Tiresias, who found two snakes copulating and killed the female with his staff. Tiresias was immediately turned into a woman, and so remained until he was able to repeat the act with the male snake seven years later. This staff later came into
the possession of the god Hermes, along with its transformative powers. Another myth suggests that Hermes or Mercury, saw two serpents entwined in mortal combat. Separating them with his wand he brought about peace between them, and as a result the wand with two serpents came to be seen as a sign of peace. In Rome, Livy refers to the caduceator who negotiated peace arrangements under the diplomatic protection of the caduceus he carried. Hermes hastens bearing hiskerukeion, on an Attic lekythos, ca 480 to 470 BC, attributed to the Tithonos Painter
VISUAL ELEMENTS OF CADUCEUS
1 Pair of Dove Wings In Christian Iconography, a dove symbolizes Holy Spirit, in reference to Matthew3:16 and Luke 3:22 where the Holy Spirit is compared to a dove at the Baptism of Jesus. The early Christians in Rome incorporated into their funerary art the image of a dove carrying an olive branch, often accompanied by the word "Peace". It seems that they derived this image from the simile in the Gospels, combining it with the symbol of the olive branch, which had been used to represent peace by the Greeks and Romans. According to mythology, the goddessesAtargatis, Ishtar, Inanna, Astarte and Aphrodite are all depicted with doves. The legendary queen Semiramis was raised by doves, connecting her to the goddesses. In the Epic of Gilgamesh the dove was released to search for the end of the deluge. In the composition of caduceus, the pair of dove symbolizes, Peace of Mind and Soul with Health and Wisdom.
2 ROD OF ASCLEPIUS The Rod of Asclepius takes its name from the god Asclepius, a deity associated with healing and medicinal arts in Greek mythology. Asclepius's attributes, the snake and the staff, sometimes depicted separately in antiquity, are combined in this symbol. The original Hippocratic Oath began with the invocation "I swear by Apollo the Physician and by Asclepius and by Hygieia and Panacea and by all the gods ...". In the composition of caduceus, the Rod of Asclepius symbolizes, Strength by Health or Asclepius, Life with Good Health. the Greek physician traditionally depicted as a bearded man wearing a robe and holding a staff in his left hand with the single serpent entwined around it.
3 PAIR OF SNAKES In about 1600 BC the Snake Goddess who is probably associated with the Cretan myth about- where the snake knows the herb of rebirth and resurrection in India. The worship of serpent deities is present in several old cultures, particularly in religion and mythology, where snakes were seen as entities of strength and renewal. In the composition of caduceus, the Pair of Snakes symbolizes, Strength and Renewal of Life. The altar where Jory Goddess is worshiped. Belur temple, Karnataka, India
REFERENCES 1. “Asclepius, Caduceus, and Simurgh as Medical Symbols, PartI”, Touraj Nayernouri, MD FRCS, Arch Iran Med 2010; 13 (1): 6168, Archives of Iranian Medicine, Volume-13, Number-1, January 2010. 2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snake_worship 3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caduceus 4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rod_of_Asclepius XXXXXXXXXXXXXX
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