scepter with 2 snakes with knotted bodies at top, a pair of wings below and a bulbous form on a bent stem

Caduceus, 2nd century

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The William Hood Dunwoody Fundexpand_more  2000.64

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A winged rod with two snakes twined around it is an ancient emblem of messengers. Originating in Middle Eastern cultures such as Babylonia (in present-day Iraq), it became an attribute of Hermes, the Greek god of commerce and communication, and of Hermes’ Roman counterpart, Mercury. In Roman myth, Mercury threw his staff at two snakes fighting on the ground, which then ceased fighting and became affixed to the staff. The caduceus is often mistaken for the staff of Asclepius, the ancient Greek god of medicine and healing. Asclepius’ staff has a single twining snake and lacks wings. Although the caduceus has been used internationally as a symbol of the medical profession, only the staff of Asclepius is technically correct.

Details
Title
Caduceus
Role
Artist
Accession Number
2000.64
Curator Approved

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scepter with 2 snakes with knotted bodies at top, a pair of wings below and a bulbous form on a bent stem