Talk:Rod of Asclepius

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Capital letters?[edit]

Is it really necessary to put "LORD" in capital letters? Just saying. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:56, 23 December 2011 (UTC)

Astrology and the Rod[edit]

Still looking up some things on this item, so forgive my comments if I'm out of line. I'm still a bit concerned about the language "the Greek pantheon of the Zodiac." The Greek Pantheon, while tangentially related to the zodiac, does not really seem to have an important relation to astrology for the purposes of this section of the article. Perhaps what is needed is a separate section in this article on the Rod's astrological significance? KrazyCaley 10:41, 19 January 2006 (UTC)

I divided the article into essentially two sections- one has information on the classical Greek mythology side of this symbol, and the other contains the astrological angle introduced by Theo. Any thoughts on this new layout? KrazyCaley 17:43, 19 January 2006 (UTC)

the Greek mythology and Christian Theology parts which you placed under Astrology are a little out of place, don't you think? KillerChihuahua?!? 18:18, 19 January 2006 (UTC)
I found it difficult to separate Theo's thoughts on the astrological stuff from his explanations of such stuff's origin in Greek mythology (or relation to Christianity, etc.). If you can edit in a way to hash the two subjects out more clearly, that would be awesome. KrazyCaley 18:54, 19 January 2006 (UTC)
There was nothing in that which referenced astrology at all except the one word "astrological" in the sentence "This astrological symbol is now used as the symbol of western medicine." I took out "astrological" as it is redundant with the preceeding sentence. If there is astrological significance to this symbol, Theo left it out of his additions. KillerChihuahua?!? 20:04, 19 January 2006 (UTC)
It would seem that way. I was under the impression that he was coming with more significant astrological additions; apparently this symbol has great sigificance in an astrological context. Thus my attempt at bisecting the article. Until such time as more NPOV astrological info. comes down from Theo, I support your most recent revision; it's certainly a good bit more coherent than mine. KrazyCaley 22:09, 19 January 2006 (UTC)
From whoever... I agree though, to support a separate section there needs to be more data. KillerChihuahua?!? 20:33, 19 January 2006 (UTC)
Crap, forgot to sign. That was me. KrazyCaley 22:09, 19 January 2006 (UTC)

Its kind of weird they get the medical sign mixed up. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:56, 8 April 2010 (UTC)


the source is a online version of An encyclopedia of religions / by Maurice A. Canney. Publisher: London, G. Routledge & sons, ltd. New York, E. P. Dutton & co., 1921. Description: Book —Preceding unsigned comment added by RapidReferenceWriter (talkcontribs) 17:43, 11 September 2007 (UTC)

The source is citation spam - appropriate citation details are not provided, merely a link to a google ad-sense revenue generation site that claims copyright on the content, and has no reputation. This editor has been mass adding these links (apparently in alpha order) to many articles, in many case in places where the linked page does not support the assertion or as a simple reference link in the reference section of an article. A 1921 encyclopedia is rarely an appropriate citation for general assertions in a modern encyclopaedia, and this particular effort is simply spam. -- SiobhanHansa 17:50, 11 September 2007 (UTC)

worm thing[edit]

It does not seem to have the best of sources. It's original link leads to a kind of blog, which quotes this PBS website (that quote is the 'source' for the worm section)- which only says this much "Guinea worm is an ancient affliction. An Egyptian medical text from the 15th century B.C. mentions it, and scientists found a calcified worm in the mummy of a thirteen-year-old girl who lived in Egypt around 1000 B.C. A Sanskrit poem from the 14th century B.C. includes the plea, "Let not the sinuous worm strike me nor wound my foot." and does not have the extra bit about the worm and rod thing that the blog quoted.

So, unless someone has a better source, I'm thinking perhaps it should be removed as pure speculation? At least the Asclepius root is fairly verifiable Novium 09:39, 23 September 2007 (UTC)

Try this one, very reputable source-
Is that ok? Owain.davies 06:13, 24 September 2007 (UTC)

Well, not all that reputable for the topic at hand. That's just a medical association. I'd say it'd work if it had a source for it, but all it says is "Another possible explanation for the origin of the snake and staff as a symbol of healing is found in primitive societies, particularly those in tropical areas, where one of the major parasites is the guinea worm. At certain stages in its life cycle the worm buries itself in the skin of its hosts. Traditionally one way to remove the worm has been to insert a stick into the worm's "burrow". The worm will coil itself around the stick and so be removed."... which still is nothing more than speculation, since, even accepting that as true, it doesn't provide evidence that the worm thing is the root of the symbol. It doesn't have any research into it. It reminds me of false etymologies- they sound good, and *could* be true. What we need is something that is a little more specific and a little less urban legend sounding. Novium 14:42, 24 September 2007 (UTC)

I'd say that's fairly reputable - a national governing body. In any case, it is one of a number of theories presented, and its use here is a good indicative that some people view it as a viable theory. Owain.davies 19:39, 25 September 2007 (UTC)
Yes, it may be a national institution, but is it a national institution that is qualified to comment on the historical roots of something without citing a source for that information? I can find plenty of factually incorrect information concerning history on the webpages of many governmental agencies. Why? because it isn't important to their purpose, nor is it anything but a nicety to tie things together. There are plenty of 'popular facts'- things that everyone knows, everyone repeats, and gets echoed by so many different sources and people that it seems accurate, and gets reported as true. That the romans had rooms for throwing up called "vomitoriums", or sowed the earth around the ruins of carthage with salt, or that viking helmets had horns are a few examples of that popular knowledge. So. What this needs- to avoid looking like one of those things- is an actual source. A proper one. Not merely another example of "some people say" - which might as well be "a man in a pub told me", no matter who it is coming from. Novium 05:05, 27 September 2007 (UTC)
I think that as information on Wikipedia goes, this is a reputable enough source to meet WP:V, especially when it is presented as one of several theories. As this is a historical item, definitive proof is practically impossible, so presenting a published theory here is properly encyclopaedic. Owain.davies 15:19, 30 September 2007 (UTC)
it's not a published theory though. I know full well the limits of historical research; however, it would be properly encyclopedic to research where they idea of the worm theory came from. Whose theory is it? This is the reason some random government agency page, telling the story without referencing where they themselves got it from, doesn't cut it, as far as I see it, especially not with the article saying "some scholars". We better have proof that some actual scholars actually said it. Novium 23:21, 3 October 2007 (UTC)

It's true that a reputable organization's website makes a passing reference to the worm theory, and that would seem to support including it here, but something about this seems wrong. I could start telling people that the symbol actually depicts an electric eel wrapped around a metal pole that Egyptian healers would touch to the wounded, and it wouldn't take long for this to appear on some webpage deemed legitimate enough to cite. Does unsupported conjecture belong in Wikipedia because someone with no expertise on a topic mentions a popular urban legend in an otherwise unrelated article? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:52, 5 December 2009 (UTC)

asclepious carrying snakes with him[edit]

I recall that asclepious suposedly carried snakes with him, who would help him with his healing, I have read a source which records a suposed appearance of asclepious at a temple, where he instructs his snakes to lick a blind mans eyes and this cures him. I remember it was in some history text book. has anyone els heard of any similar storys about assclepious apearing and instucting his snakes to heal someone? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:03, 2 October 2007 (UTC)

Incorrectly used?[edit]

I removed the phrase "The caduceus is often incorrectly used as a symbol for medicine or doctors, in place of the rod of Asclepius which is the usual symbol of the medical profession." because the next sentence was "A 1992 survey of American health organisations found that 62% of professional associations used the rod of Asclepius, whereas in commercial organisations, 76% used the caduceus." 76% of commercial organizations in America using the caduceus means it's incorrect? I later looked at the citation and reverted that edit. I looked again and the citation says "correct" — with quotation marks around it. So I still doubt this sentence: "The caduceus is often incorrectly used as a symbol for medicine or doctors, in place of the rod of Asclepius which is the usual symbol of the medical profession." The section should probably note usage in different countries, instead of saying one way is "correct" or "incorrect" or "usual" or not. Based on the reference to Dr Keith Blayney, it's clear that the caduceus is "usual" when speaking of commercial health organizations in the United States. If it's usage is considered correct in a certain country, that should be mentioned. If it's usage is considered traditional or historically correct, that should be mentioned. The section should say where it is considered correct. --Pixelface (talk) 14:52, 18 November 2007 (UTC)

Yes, the 76% of the commercial organisations using it are incorrect! Just because something is used widely, doesn't mean it's right. You can see that most medical professionals (rather than commercial entities) use the correct rod of asclepius. The usage by commercial companies is not considered correct by any authority, just by themselves - and nobody is likely to force them in to a logo change. The article does note that it is widely used, so i don't see any change as being necessary. Owain.davies (talk) 17:00, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
We should probably cite another source, a reliable source, that speaks of the correct usage — not just a source that says "correct." --Pixelface (talk) 01:28, 19 November 2007 (UTC)

Use in Medicine[edit]

I have heard a rumor that the caduceus was originally mistaken for the proper medical symbol after it was used on early ambulances, because of its connection with speed. Has anyone else heard this? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:19, 14 February 2008 (UTC)

Commerce and NPOV[edit]

In a recent edit an (apparently) unregistered editor removed the word "commerce" from this passage: "The caduceus is sometimes used as a symbol for medicine or doctors (instead of the rod of Asclepius) even though the symbol has no connection with Hippocrates and any association with healing arts is something of a stretch; as the symbol of the god Hermes, its singularly inappropriate connotations of theft, commerce, deception, and death have provided fodder for academic humor." The edit summary for this edit read: "Removed 'commerce,' from the list of 'singularly inappropriate connotations'. Anti-(or pro-)commerce POV doesn't belong here"

The belief that an 'anti-commerce' POV existed here would depend upon reading "singularly inappropriate" as meaning 'bad'. This is rather hard to credit. If an editor writes that a butcher had adopted a barber's pole as a "singularly inappropriate" sign for his butcher shop, no reader with knowledge of the English language would be forced to assume an 'anti-barber' stance. Hermes is the god of commerce, deception, eloquence, and theft - and is the guide of the recently deceased. All of these are singularly inappropriate connotations for a symbol used to represent healers. We are talking about the values associated with a sign that is intended to evoke a response (like a modern brand logo, with its associated 'value propositions'). When using a sign to indicate the presence of a healer or medical facilities a symbol associated with commerce is singularly inappropriate for this application. To offer a further example, a left turn road sign would be "singularly inappropriate" if a right turn were up ahead, and one can safely say this without fearing the influence of any 'anti-left turn' POV. An example of a point of view which is decidedly not neutral (and which of course, for that reason, cannot be found anywhere in the article) would be: if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and uses a duck feather for a symbol - it's probably a duck.--Picatrix (talk) 23:01, 23 November 2008 (UTC)

I don't believe that it's inappropriate that a certain trade should be linked with a symbol that connotates commerce, regardless if it's anti- or pro-, so I removed "commerce" from the text.-- (talk) 07:59, 24 November 2008 (UTC)

Do you believe it is inappropriate to associate the letter B with the sound "ah"? Is it inappropriate to refer to a doctor as a "captain of industry"? For some reason I seem unable to make it clear to you that it is inappropriate because symbols have distinct associations. It is a confusion, if you will, between signifier and signified. The letter A is used to represent the sound "ah", not the letter B. The word "physician" is used to communicate an individual who practices medicine in a conventionally recognized way, not "salesman". Nevertheless, I will try to clarify this further in the text as a compromise. At root here, the issue is this:

1. The Caduceus is associated with Hermes

2. Hermes is a associated with commerce

3. Commerce and medicine are two different things

4. Using one symbol for two distinct things is confusing

5. Using a symbol in a confusing way is inappropriate in the context of communication

6. All use of symbols constitutes a form of communication, therefore:

7. The use of the Caduceus as a symbol of medicine is singularly inappropriate

Furthermore, what you believe is of little importance in a Wikipedia article. It is necessary to establish that what you write is notable, verifiable, not original research and presented with a neutral point of view. I have provided a citation to establish that this point of view is not my own, can be cited, and is not original research. Existing text in the article already offers the counter arguments (however weak) for the idea that it could be appropriate as a symbol in this context. For your part, you are simply making edits based on what you "believe". Furthermore, you are changing your reasons for you edits: first you said the word should be removed because it was 'anti-commerce POV', then you state that POV has nothing to do with whether the word should be there, rather that your belief does. I do not agree with you at all, but I have attempted a compromise. --Picatrix (talk) 21:06, 24 November 2008 (UTC)

First of all, I was NOT the one who edited the page first, and second, your comparisons are wrong. Better comparisons would be, "Is it inappropriate to associate the letter B with a consonant?" and "Is it inappropriate to call a doctor a market-entrepreneur or a worker?". To these questions I would say no. I believe your confusion lies in your narrow interpretation of "commerce", but if you look it up in Wiki, you'll find that the word denotes all industries, all forms of exchange of services. Thus, medical services are a form of commerce, just as much as, for instance, manicure and pedicure services. To use a symbol that connotates commerce for medical services is thus as (in)appropriate as using a symbol that connotates commerce for the auto-industry, or one that connotates "mathematics" for polynomials, or one that connotates "sport" for soccer. So what I'm saying is that a subtype could very well be linked with (one of) its supertype.

Just stating that it is inappropriate, in an inappropriate syllogical manner, doesn't prove your point. Neither does your quote, which clearly says that it was his silver-tounge that made him a good symbol for the quack doctor, and as him being a ferry man for the dead that made him an inappropriate symbol for doctors. My use of "believe" comes out of the knowledge that it's easy to make errors, so I try to not make bald claims unless I'm quite certain I'm correct. - (on another computer) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:09, 25 November 2008 (UTC)

First of all, without a signature, it is difficult to determine with whom I am communicating. If you wish to avoid any confusion in this respect, then sign your posts or distinguish yourself from the previous editor. This is yet another example of confusion in communication. Given that you capitalized "NOT" in your reply, it would seem that you feel confusion in communication, in this respect at least, is not appropriate.

Second, I understand your attempt – I think – to state that medicine itself is a form of commerce ('B is a consonant'), or can be subsumed in some way in this designation. It is of course associated with commerce in many (if not most) instances today. However, medical assistance is not always associated with exchange of 'services'. Medical services offered in exchange for some consideration are a form of commerce, but the act of healing another, which is to say the practice of medicine itself, has no necessary relationship to commerce. If it did have such a necessary relationship as a category of human activity, it would be impossible to provide medical services to another without taking something in exchange. Fortunately in the real world medical services for which nothing is exchanged are still offered, and so any claim that the practice of medicine itself shows a necessary relationship to commerce (as would be the case if it were a 'subtype' under the 'supertype' of commerce) is entirely unsupportable. The circumstances in which an act can take place are not the same as the circumstances necessary for an act to take place. While I can pay a person to have sexual intercourse with me, it is not necessary that I do so for the act to take place. There are simply other ways this can happen.

Furthermore, commerce or the exchange of services is sometimes hard to reconcile with other aspects of the commonly recognized duties of a healer. For example, in the Declaration of Geneva, adopted by the General Assembly of the World Medical Association at Geneva, we read:

The health of my patient will be my first consideration


I will not permit considerations of age, disease or disability, creed, ethnic origin, gender, nationality, political affiliation, race, sexual orientation, social standing or any other factor to intervene between my duty and my patient;

If a patient cannot 'exchange services' (which is certainly necessary for any act of 'commerce', however defined) how is commerce to take place? Setting aside the issues of confusion in communication already mentioned (which I still feel are significant and have not been addressed by you), associating commerce with healing by using the caduceus symbol is inappropriate not because associating commerce with medicine is always inappropriate, rather because associating commerce with medicine is not always appropriate. And yet the use of the caduceus symbol leads to a consistent general association, established at the very deepest level, in the very sign some medical practitioners use to identify themselves. Physicians, so far as I can tell, very often work very hard, for a very long time to enter their field, and are often burdened with significant expenses of their own in order to operate. This suggests that it is not only appropriate for them to charge a fee for their services ('commerce'), it is also necessary for them to do so in order to continue to provide the valuable service they render to society.

However, again, commerce or exchange is not always appropriate. For example, what of patients who are unable to pay? What then of the idea that the health of the patient will be the first concern? If payment (or 'commerce') is so deeply intertwined with the practice of medicine that it can be considered a fundamental aspect of it, what are we to do if a sick person cannot pay?

Attempting to compare commercial aspects of medicine with the commercial aspects of the automotive industry is potentially misleading. If I am refused a car (or a pedicure, or a manicure, to use your trivial examples) I will not, presumably, possibly suffer or die as a direct result of the refusal.

If you feel that it is appropriate for the medical profession to be associated with fast-talking "quack" doctors there is perhaps little point in continuing this discussion. It seems that you 'believe' in commerce to such an extent that you see it as associated with all fields of human endeavor. While I'll grant that similar attitudes have become very common in much of the world since the Reformation, and have been raised to something of a commonplace, they can hardly be construed as ineluctable truths of existence.

If you try not to make bald claims without being certain you are correct, then why don't you provide some pertinent and applicable citation supporting the idea that it is appropriate for serious medical professionals to be associated with "quack" doctors, and supporting the idea that commerce is to be thought of as the underlying basis of all human activity to such an extent that the practice of medicine itself has no, and can have no, recognizable basis outside the context of 'exchange of services'. As already mentioned in the article some have argued that the symbol is appropriate, to wit an example of this is:

"[...] an effort is made to summarize any healing functions that Hermes may have had: he was deity of the gymnasium and guardian of health, aided Athena in curing the daughters of Proetus of madness, performed a Caesarian operation on Semele at the birth of Bacchus, averted a plague by carrying a ram on his shoulders about the city walls of Tanagra, and is sometimes associated with Hygeia as her husband."


"On the other hand, S. P. Gerhard objects to the use of the caduceus as a medical emblem, assigning its use to merchants and steamship or railway companies. He pleads for the use of the knotty rod and serpent of Aesculapius - the knots to indicate the many difficult problems of the physician, the serpent to symbolize power, wisdom, and health.

Again, Colonel McCulloch calls the whole significance of the caduceus uncomplimentary to the doctor; he traces its use to the Public Health Service and to Churchill. He alleges the adoption by army surgeons of ancient times of the caduceus as a badge of neutrality, but is unable to quote an authority.

The editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association agrees with objectors to the caduceus, the use of which he thinks a reflection upon the interest which our nation takes in things classical. He mentions the uncomplimentary phase of Mercury as conductor of souls of the dead. He sees confusion of the caduceus with medicine through the sleep-producing qualities of Hermes in the Greek poets and through the opiate rod mentioned by Erasmus Darwin.

In this connection two English physicians do not look kindly upon Mercury, conductor of the dead and holder of the full purse. They urge the universal adoption of the official emblem of the American Medical Association, the rod of Aesculapius, and the abandonment of the caduceus. But on the cover of the second publication cited appears the figure of the caduceus.

The majority of medical opinion now favors the use of the Aesculapian rod as a medical symbol. This is now the emblem of the American Medical Association, the Royal Army Medical Corps, and the French Medical Military Service; and it appears on the coat of arms of the U. S. Medical Corps [...]"

Bernice S. Engle, "The Use of Mercury's Caduceus as a Medical Emblem", The Classical Journal, Vol. 25, No. 3, (Dec., 1929), pp. 206-20

and it looks like DNA, ancient greek legend indeed! —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:34, 11 March 2009 (UTC)

Section 'Conflict'[edit]

The 'Symbolism' section and the 'Origin' section are in conflict. The assertions in the 'Symbolism' section directly relate to the origin of the symbol, while the 'Origin' section outlines a number of arguments for symbolic derivation. The material should be presented differently. I'm gathering citations now. Any help would be appreciated. It seems the duality inherent in the ancient Greek term from which our modern "pharmacy" derives (the original word meant poison and medicine) has something to do with the association of the god with a snake or snakes. I've got to do a bit more research but this article needs cleaning up and a more informed exposition of the alternative theories. My own feeling is that the 'origin' of the symbol as we use it today (as reflected in the name it bears) suggests that we have carried over the symbol of the snake and staff directly from antique Classical models, which do not fail in any way to account for the snake or the staff, and for which plenty of straightforward Classical references exist. The worm theory does nothing to explain why Asclepius was associated with snakes separate from staves, and to give it credence we would have to assume that the ancient Greeks and Romans could not tell the difference between a worm and a snake. I therefore propose that we take a common sense approach, and with verifiable citations and a neutral point of view present the strictly 'Asclepian' symbolism as primary and then add a section with alternative theories. --Picatrix (talk) 00:49, 25 March 2009 (UTC)

No problem with that, but the worm theory is widely believed, so must be covered, if only to discredit it. OwainDavies (about)(talk) edited at 07:46, 25 March 2009 (UTC)

I've rewritten the content, and reorganized it as best I'm able. I'd appreciate others taking a look and tightening things up as/where necessary. --Picatrix (talk) 10:44, 26 March 2009 (UTC)

The section "Standard representation" says "The rod of Asclepius has a representation on the Miscellaneous Symbols table of the Unicode Standard at U+2695". I checked out both tables and there were no representation of the rod of Asclepius. Instead, there is the symbol of Caduceus. I believe this section should be removed and transferred on the Caduceus page instead. Would you guys agree? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Bemersbem (talkcontribs) 01:33, 8 May 2010 (UTC)

I'm not sure what you mean. I just took a look at the unicode table and indeed there is a Rod of Asclepius named and depicted as 2695. There is also an entirely different caduceus with a different designation. Can you explain what you are talking about? --Picatrix (talk) 15:01, 8 May 2010 (UTC)
Picatrix, I stand corrected. There is a Rod of Asclepius in the Miscellaneous symbols page. The symbol just didn't showed up in my browser. Thanks for pointing out! —Preceding unsigned comment added by Bemersbem (talkcontribs) 10:53, 13 May 2010 (UTC)

Removed an opinion sentence[edit]

I removed the sentence "From this latter point of view, would not this symbol be suitable for certain Congressmen, all medical quacks, book agents and purveyors of vacuum cleaners, rather than for the straight-thinking, straight-speaking therapist?" from the "Confusion" section. This is pure opinion that doesn't belong here (even though I agree with it). --Bishamon NC (talk) 19:03, 2 July 2009 (UTC)

I think that it does belong here as it is a direct quote, which is sourced, therefore allowable. What would be good is to make the quote stand out more. Not sure what the wiki markup is for that though. OwainDavies (about)(talk) edited at 06:00, 3 July 2009 (UTC)

Pure opinion is allowed everywhere in Wikipedia, provided that it is not the editors opinion. If it is cited, verifiable, and presented neutrally with other views to balance it then it does belong here. --Picatrix (talk) 17:50, 3 July 2009 (UTC)

Viewpoints on usage[edit]

I have argued here as well as at Caduceus that the decision on the part of some (e.g.., US military) should not be described editorially, by us as erroneous. Rather, we should say that various sources have called the usage erroneous.

I won't edit war over this, but I will raise an NPOV issue, if the article 'owners' object to our being neutral on this.

Not that this is a big issue in itself, but because any instance of Wikipedians deciding on their own to say that something is right or erroneous damages our credibility as a source of neutral information.

And it doesn't hurt the cause of those who want to point out the 'error', either. It simply shifts the authority from us (as a contributor community) to the verifiable sources. --Uncle Ed (talk) 14:11, 4 May 2010 (UTC)

The sole appearance of "error" or "erroneous" in this article (it appeared in a caption) has been removed. Discussion of this theme can continue at the caduceus article, but there's no point in going further with the debate here.--Picatrix (talk) 15:57, 4 May 2010 (UTC)

Snake with the Rod of Asclepius is NOT the Medina Worm[edit]

According to the German article text, the theory, that the Rod of Asclepius is a symbol of the treatment of Dracunculus medinensis, is refuted. -- (talk) 14:26, 15 January 2011 (UTC)

Great. Can you provide translations of the citations for us? --Picatrix (talk) 20:28, 20 January 2011 (UTC)

New age links[edit]

Why all the links to new age stuff like Kundalini and stuff? Skinnytony1 (talk) 10:35, 31 March 2014 (UTC)