The caduceus is a symbol associated with the medical profession, often used as a logo or emblem on medical uniforms, documents, and advertisements. It features two snakes winding around a winged staff, often with a ball or knob on top.
The caduceus is often confused with the Rod of Asclepius, which is a symbol of medicine dating back to ancient Greece. The Rod of Asclepius features a single serpent entwined around a staff, and is associated with the Greek god of healing, Asclepius.
The origins of the caduceus are somewhat unclear, but it is generally believed to have originated in ancient Mesopotamia, where it was associated with the god Ningishzida. In ancient Greek mythology, the caduceus was associated with Hermes, the messenger of the gods. In both cultures, the symbol represented commerce and negotiation, as well as safe passage and protection.
Over time, the caduceus came to be associated with healing and medicine, possibly due to its connection with Hermes, who was also associated with healing. The symbol was adopted by various medical organizations and publications in the 19th and 20th centuries, but its use as a medical symbol is now generally considered incorrect due to its confusion with the Rod of Asclepius.
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