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Gallery: Olympian Healers

Asclepius, Hermes, and the Caduceus

Detail of a caduceus from the title page of Marco Amelio Severino. Vipera Pythia. (Patavii: Typis Pauli Frambotti, 1651). Many modern physicians have adopted the caduceus as the "ancient" symbol of their profession, with its two intertwined snakes grasping a staff. In the ancient world, however, the caduceus was a symbol of Hermes, the Roman Mercury, who was primarily a messenger god linked with commerce. Asclepius' symbol was a single snake entwined around his staff—the 'Asclepian staff'.

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