Meaning of Medicine Symbol

What is Medicine Symbol:

Two widely spread emblems are known as symbols of medicine: the first one, “the rod of Aesculapius or Asclepius”, and the second, “the caduceus of Hermes”. These symbols are used interchangeably to identify both medical information and health professionals and care facilities.

The Rod of Aesculapius or Asclepius

Rod of Escupalius

Aesculapius is the Roman name for Asclepius, son of the god Apollo and Coronis, a mortal woman. According to Homeric accounts, Escupalius lived in Thessaly and devoted himself to medicine.

The Rod of Aesculapius or Asclepius represents a rod or staff with a coiled serpent on it. This rod is the symbol of the tree of life, as indicated by the Dictionary of Symbols by Jean Chavelier and Alain Gheertbrant.

According to the source consulted, the snake is a symbol of vanity that has been dominated, since the poison is transformed into a remedy. In this way, what was mortal becomes a way of healing. Actually, that healing would not only be of the body but also of the soul.

In this sense, the disposition of the snake also has a meaning: its symmetrical scrolls represent the “harmonization of desires”, which implies that health processes are also related to the internal order of the subject, the spiritual order in which must work to maintain a balance between body and soul (psyche).

The legend of Aesculapius

Legend has it that Aesculapius was treating Glaucus for a fatal wound when a snake appeared in the room. Seeing her, Aesculapius killed her with her rod.

Immediately afterwards another snake entered carrying branches in its mouth. By putting them in the mouth of the dead snake, he revived it. Curious about the outcome of the scene, Aesculapius decided to use those branches and apply them to Glaucus, which saved his life. The success obtained then made him worthy of great fame, which is why he was mythologized and venerated after his death.

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Caduceus of Hermes or Mercury

Caduceus of Hermes

Another tradition identifies the caduceus of Hermes as a symbol of medicine. This is formed of a caduceus with two snakes coiled symmetrically and facing each other at the top. In this, in addition, a pair of unfolded wings are superimposed.

In this case, the snakes represent the beneficial and the evil at the same time. The caduceus represents the balance point between these two opposing forces.

According to legend, the two serpents fighting each other also represent primordial chaos. Therefore, the caduceus between them represents peace.

The two wings represent Hermes, the messenger of the gods, who guides living beings in their changes of state, according to Chavelier and Gheertbrant. Called Mercury by Roman tradition, Hermes is also responsible for the balance between water and fire.

See also:

  • Symbolism.
  • Medicine.