Only $2.99/month

Greek Word Origins Vocab

Terms in this set (28)

Definition: the symbol of the American Medical profession; two snakes wrapped/intertwined around a pole
Origin: According to Greek myth, Apollo killed his unfaithful mortal lover named Coronis. After her death, Apollo discovered that she was pregnant, and he had Hermes deliver the baby. The child was named Aesculapius. Aesculapius was trained to become a healer, and over time, he became the god of medicine Aesculapius became so skilled with medicine that he succeeded in bringing one of his patients back from the dead. Zeus felt that the immortality of the Gods was threatened and killed [him] with a thunderbolt. Aesculapius was placed among the stars [and was named] Ophiuchus, the serpent-bearer. Aesculapius, as a healer, carried around a staff with two serpents coiled around it and wings on the top. The wings on the staff are related to the wings that Hermes wore on his shoes to deliver messages quickly. The two serpents represent worms coiled around a stick. In ancient times, infection by parasitic worms was common. Physicians treated this infection by cutting a slit in the patient's skin. Just as the worm crawled out the cut, the physician wound the pest around a stick until the entire animal has been removed. This staff, held by Aesculapius, was later evolved into the Caduceus, the American medical symbol. Another story says that the Caduceus was a"white wand carried by Roman heralds when they went to treat for peace. [The wand was then] placed in the hands of Hermes, the heralds of the gods. With the wand he could give sleep to whomsoever he chose. This is related to the medical field because doctors cure people by giving them sleep.The Greeks called the staff [of Hermes (Mercury)] a kerykeion, from the Greek word for messenger. In Latin, the language of the Romans, the word was changed to caduceus.