Why Is Hermes Staff the Medical Symbol?

The Hermes staff, also known as the Caduceus, is a symbol that is associated with medicine and healing. It is often seen in hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare facilities all over the world.

But have you ever wondered why the Hermes staff became the symbol of medicine? Let’s explore the history and mythology behind this iconic symbol.

What is the Hermes Staff?

The Hermes staff or Caduceus is a winged rod with two snakes entwined around it. It is often depicted with wings on top and a knob-like structure in between them.

The snakes are usually facing each other at the base of the rod. The Caduceus has been associated with various Greek gods throughout history.

Mythology behind the Hermes Staff

In Greek mythology, Hermes was considered as a god of commerce, thieves, travelers, and messengers. He was also known for his ability to bring peace and resolution to conflicts. According to legend, he used his Caduceus to guide the souls of dead people to their final resting place in the underworld.

Another well-known story involving the Caduceus is that of Tiresias, a blind prophet who received his gift of prophecy from Athena by touching her shield with a stick or wand. Later on, Zeus gave Tiresias another gift: an insight into what happens when male and female snakes mate. This caused him to be transformed into a woman for seven years before being transformed back into a man by using Hermes’ Caduceus.

The Medical Symbol Connection

The use of the Caduceus as a symbol for medicine can be traced back to ancient Greece. Asclepius was a Greek god of healing who was often depicted holding a staff with one snake wrapped around it.

This depiction eventually evolved into two snakes wrapping around a staff – similar to how they wrap around the Hermes staff. The Caduceus was also sometimes associated with Asclepius, and later on, the symbol became connected to medicine.

It’s important to note that the Hermes staff is not the only symbol associated with medicine. The Rod of Asclepius, which is a single snake wrapped around a staff, is also commonly used as a symbol of medicine. This symbol has a more direct connection to Asclepius, who is considered the patron saint of medicine in some cultures.


In conclusion, the Hermes staff or Caduceus has been associated with various Greek gods throughout history. Its connection to medicine can be traced back to ancient Greece when it became associated with Asclepius, the Greek god of healing. Today, it continues to be used as a symbol of medicine and healing all over the world.

So next time you see the Hermes staff in a healthcare setting, you’ll know the mythology and history behind this iconic symbol.