by BD Mitchell
One hundred facts that are interesting but ultimately useless.
- mythology / symbology -
The Caduceus (a symbol depicting a winged staff encircled by two serpents) frequently appears as a medical emblem in the United States. This is considered an error, as the Caduceus was traditionally a sign of Hermes, the Greek god of messengers, thieves, tricksters, and travelers. It is often confused for the Staff of Asclepius, which portrays a single snake winding around an un-winged staff. As Asclepius was perhaps the most famous healer in Ancient Greece, his staff is arguably a more appropriate symbol for the field of medicine.
This confusion may be due in part to the Caduceus' usage by early printers as an industry logo, likely a reference to Hermes' role as a messenger. By the 19th century in the United States, the symbol was largely associated with publishers of medical journals, and by extension the medical field in whole.