You say caduceus, I say Asclepius

Wings and serpents reign in hospitals and clinics and even the U.S. Army. Tonight they soared and slithered atop an article about trans* medical care—denial thereof—in Florida, colors coordinated in white, pink, and Egyptian blue.


Thing is, Egyptians of old would have recognized these airborne and earthbound in the caduceus, the wand wielded by the Greeks’ Hermes (and the Nile’s appropriated Hermes Trismegistus), the messenger Mercury.


The rod associated with medicine is not Mercury’s but rather the staff of Asclepius. Apollo bestowed these iconic objects on both deities, but only the latter is associated with medicine. And so: the next EMT you see is emblazoned properly; the next newscast, not.

Ambulance photo
Image: Tony Hisgett, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Header image:
Flag of the
Surgeon General
of the U.S. Army

One Reply to “You say caduceus, I say Asclepius”

  1. I know my EMT grandson (currently readying himself to start medical school) will find this fascinating!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *