MWillie

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the snake and pole? One's the staff of Hermes, the other is the staff of Askelpios.
 

ellia08

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heres some general stuff. The staff & snakes are called a caduceus.

[edit] or staff of hermes, thanks mwillie

Caduceus Link
 

vikaskoth

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its called a caduceus (not sure on sp) its from greek mythology, It was carried by Hermes, and Apollo gave it to him. I guess Hermes was considered a healer also.
 

Shredder

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SD Skunk said:
this is a question i've been meaning to ask for ages, but keep forgetting. can anybody answer this, or find a weblink that explains the symbolic meaning of the logo
I had an unusual BME lecture that said it is the staff of Asclepius, Apollo's sun and the father of medicine or something.
 

MedicineBird

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SD Skunk said:
this is a question i've been meaning to ask for ages, but keep forgetting. can anybody answer this, or find a weblink that explains the symbolic meaning of the logo
It's my understanding that it came from the story in the Old Testament about Moses wandering in the desert with the children of Israel. They became ill and God told Moses to place a snake on the end of his staff and told the people that if they would look at it, they would be healed. (hence the phrase "look and live.") Maybe it's a mix of these stories.
 

vikaskoth

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the asclepius staff has one snake, the caduceus has two, its all from greek stuff, no bible influence, if anything the bible was obviously influenced by greek myth.
 

ellia08

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2 snakes:
The caduceus as a Medical symbol: 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.

Like the staff of Asclepius, the caduceus became associated with medicine through its use as a printer’s mark, as printers saw themselves as messengers of the printed word and diffusers of knowledge (hence the choice of the symbol of the messenger of the ancient gods). A major reason for the current popularity of the caduceus as a medical symbol was its official adoption as the insignia for the Medical Department of the United States Army in 1902.


One Snake

The staff as a Medical symbol: From the early 16th century onwards, the staff of Asclepius and the caduceus of Hermes were widely used as printers’ marks especially as frontispieces to pharmacopoeias in the 17th and 18th centuries. Over time the rod and serpent (the Asclepian staff) emerged as an independent symbol of medicine.

Despite the unequivocal claim of the staff of Asclepius to represent medicine (and healing), the caduceus, a rod with two entwined serpents topped by a pair of wings appears to be the more popular symbol of medicine in the United States, probably due to simple confusion between the caduceus and the staff of Asclepius, the true symbol of medicine. Many people use the word caduceus to mean both of these emblems.


****Note that this is all liberated from the link above
 

freaker

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vikaskoth said:
the asclepius staff has one snake, the caduceus has two, its all from greek stuff, no bible influence, if anything the bible was obviously influenced by greek myth.
No, actually, the Biblical account predates those of the Greeks or Romans by many, many centuries. Just as a point of reference, Alexander the Great only came around in about 350 B.C. That's ages after the Old Testament and the accounts of Moses.

A number of medical symbols have been pulled from both Greco-Roman and Judeo-Christan heritages.

This one is pretty short and to the point:

http://www.edaciousimber.info/serpent_tapestry_leaf_two.html


Kind of cool how this stuff has been around so long.
 

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dr.z said:
Thanks for the info! Now I know what it means.

the eminent medical historian Roy Porter thought that the image may derive from the method involved in the removal of a parsitic worm that is found largely in africa. The method is this. The worm breaks through the skin and approx one inch of this very long worm can be removed a day otherwise it breaks and dies inside of the person causing a severe infection and death. a stick is wrapped around the exposed end and removed a little bit at a time over weeks being pulled out little by little till eventually the whole things has been removed. So these people have to walk around for a few weeks with a worm-stick attached to them. This is still the best way to do it, as far as I know, and has been the prefered method for thousands of years. You will have to forgive me that i have forgoten the name of the worm. But eveything that has been written is correct too as far as i know.
 

eralza

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All I know is that a lot of Navy Hospital Corpsmen got the tattoo while we were in school. Nothing instills confidence in a patient like a cadeusus boldly emblazoned on the neck! Any takers?

Oh yeah, the worm that is removed by twisting around the stick is the Guinea Fire Worm Dracunculus medinensis.
 

Homer Doughnuts

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lowlandgorilla said:
the eminent medical historian Roy Porter thought that the image may derive from the method involved in the removal of a parsitic worm that is found largely in africa. The method is this. The worm breaks through the skin and approx one inch of this very long worm can be removed a day otherwise it breaks and dies inside of the person causing a severe infection and death. a stick is wrapped around the exposed end and removed a little bit at a time over weeks being pulled out little by little till eventually the whole things has been removed. So these people have to walk around for a few weeks with a worm-stick attached to them. This is still the best way to do it, as far as I know, and has been the prefered method for thousands of years. You will have to forgive me that i have forgoten the name of the worm. But eveything that has been written is correct too as far as i know.

The Guinea Worm, Dracunculus medinensis a parasitic worm that creates a boil on the host usually on a lower extremity. Once the boil contacts water the worm release larvae into the water when people drink the water containing the copepod larva the larva grow into adult worms continuing the cycle in other people. The worm can be wrapped around a stick when it exposes itself to the outside and the weight of the stick will pull the worm out of the tissue. The reason you can’t pull it out is b/c the worm is very antigenic and can cause death if broken. They say that worm removal is ultra painful.
 

subtle1epiphany

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freaker said:
No, actually, the Biblical account predates those of the Greeks or Romans by many, many centuries. Just as a point of reference, Alexander the Great only came around in about 350 B.C. That's ages after the Old Testament and the accounts of Moses.

A number of medical symbols have been pulled from both Greco-Roman and Judeo-Christan heritages.

This one is pretty short and to the point:

http://www.edaciousimber.info/serpent_tapestry_leaf_two.html


Kind of cool how this stuff has been around so long.
Believe it or not, there were Greeks before 350 BCE and Alexander. :eek:
In fact, there are remnants of civilization, highly organized and literate, on Crete back into the 2nd millenium BCE. We have literature from about 1100 - 1300 BCE. While this isn't as long ago as the generally accepted dates of the Bible (usually around 1700 BCE), it is close in terms of archaeology.
I assure you that both the Caduceus and Staff of Asclepius are borrowed from Greek mythologies. The irony however, is that Hermes/Mercury was the ferrier of the dead from the grave to Charon, who took them across the River Styx. As a god who transcends boundaries, commerce and theft being the famous two, Hermes also was involved in the death process. Just quite a funny fact as his staff is now a symbol of our abilities to prolong life.
 

freaker

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subtle1epiphany said:
Believe it or not, there were Greeks before 350 BCE and Alexander. :eek:
In fact, there are remnants of civilization, highly organized and literate, on Crete back into the 2nd millenium BCE. We have literature from about 1100 - 1300 BCE. While this isn't as long ago as the generally accepted dates of the Bible (usually around 1700 BCE), it is close in terms of archaeology.
I assure you that both the Caduceus and Staff of Asclepius are borrowed from Greek mythologies. The irony however, is that Hermes/Mercury was the ferrier of the dead from the grave to Charon, who took them across the River Styx. As a god who transcends boundaries, commerce and theft being the famous two, Hermes also was involved in the death process. Just quite a funny fact as his staff is now a symbol of our abilities to prolong life.
Yeah, it is pretty funny. I've been doing some reading, and the term caducous implies temporality, perishableness and senility--quite the opposite of the medical community's espoused mission. ;)

Hermes' staff came to represent this prolonging of life through his later connections with the alchemists (a connection generally accepted to have arisen by 7th-century AD).


Yeah, I agree; the symbol is probably Greek (just wasn't buying into the idea that this story influenced the Bible; even as you note, that Greek literature dates back a little further, Greek society really gained its influence later), but it has most likely been unknowingly imbued with Judeo-Christian significance (as was likely the case with the use of Greek symbols which I note below). See the site of the British Medical Association, which makes note of the Caduceus, the staff of Caduceus, Moses' staff, and the Guinea worm mentioned above.

The Guinea worm was apparently a common malady faced by the populace, and doctors would advertise their services by displaying a serpent coiled around a rod (with the Greek symbol later becoming the most popular means of expression)--probably how the Caduceus came to become the symbol of medicine.

Again, cool stuff.
 

Wolfkishner

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From what I remember of Greek mythology: Aesculapius was the mortal son of Apollo. Having inherited his father's gifts (Apollo was previously the God of Healing & Medicine, as well as Music) He was trained as a healer, and became so skilled that he healed a man from death i.e. raised him from the dead. The gods were afraid that since man now had Aesculapius and his power to heal death, they would have no more need for the gods, so Zeus slew Aesculapius with a thunderbolt. In revenge for his son's death, Apollo then slew the Cyclopes (the servants of Zeus).

Also, snakes have often been associated with Apollo, as in one of the Apollonian legends, he kills the snake/dragon Python. Thus, Aesculapius, the son of Apollo, is also connected with snakes, and that may be the reason behind the snake entwined on the staff.
 

pratik7

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we were taught in a micro lecture that it had to do with a worm (cant remember the name) that grows in testicles. Doctors would wrap the worm around a stick and slowly remove it over the course of a couple of day, You had to remove the worm while it was still alive and removing it too quickly would kill the worm.