I had an unusual BME lecture that said it is the staff of Asclepius, Apollo's sun and the father of medicine or something.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.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
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.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.
dr.z said:Thanks for the info! Now I know what it means.
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.
Believe it or not, there were Greeks before 350 BCE and Alexander.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:
Kind of cool how this stuff has been around so long.
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.subtle1epiphany said:Believe it or not, there were Greeks before 350 BCE and Alexander.
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.