Arch Iran Med. 2020;23(8): 573-577.
doi: 10.34172/aim.2020.65

Scopus ID: 85090492239
  Abstract View: 1426
  PDF Download: 466

History of Medicine

Caduceus: A Medical Symbol of Deception, or Is There More to That?

George Katsaras 1* ORCID logo, Vasiliki Chatziravdeli 2, Dimitrios Katsaras 3, Garyfalia Papavasileiou 4

1 Paediatric Department, General Hospital of Edessa, Edessa, Greece
2 2nd Orthopaedic Department, General Hospital of Thessaloniki “Papageorgiou”, Thessaloniki, Greece
3 Lancashire Cardiac Centre, Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Blackpool, UK
4 Eye Department, St James’s University Hospital, The Leeds Teaching Hospital NHS Trust, Leeds, UK
*Corresponding Author: George Katsaras, MD, MSc, PhDc; End of Egnatia St., 58200 Edessa, Greece. Mobile: 00306939193901; Email: gkatsaras84@gmail.com


The serpent is the most popular representative symbol of medicine. The two main figures commonly used are the rod of Asclepius and the caduceus. Much controversy exists in the literature on whether the caduceus is a false symbol for medicine or not. The history of how these depictions came to be ambassadors of the medical science is elusive to many physicians. Scholars suggest that the origin of this false belief dates back to 1902, when the US Army Medical Corps first incorporated the caduceus as its symbol. This current essay is an attempt to discover and interpret how the snake came to be part of the rod of Asclepius and the caduceus, and constitute the symbol of medicine in our days. It is widely accepted that a doctor’s obligation is not only in healing the ill, but the task that is bestowed upon him is more complex. Therefore, one should be considered more of a physician rather than simply a doctor
Keywords: Caduceus, Medical symbol, Rod of Asclepius, Staff of Hermes
Cite this article as: Katsaras G, Chatziravdeli V, Katsaras D, Papavasileiou G. Caduceus: a medical symbol of deception, or is there more to that? Arch Iran Med. 2020;23(8):573–577. doi: 10.34172/aim.2020.65.
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Submitted: 11 Feb 2020
Accepted: 02 Jun 2020
ePublished: 01 Aug 2020
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