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#86518 11/11/02 02:08 AM
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The US Army Medical Corps insignia is a caduceus, a staff with wings and two entwined
snakes. I have read that this amuses the Brits, who knew that caduceus belonged to
Mercury. The Brits' knowledge of mythology led the to use caduceus of Aesculapius,
with only one snake.
The two snake caduceus belonged to Mercury. My dictionary says medical can be two
snakes, but British medical insignia has only one, in all illustrations I have ever seen.

Edit: I goofed and put an "e" after the "d" where it does not belong. Shame on me.


#86519 11/11/02 02:17 AM
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Huh - I was under the impression that the cadeuceus was a more generally (no pun intended, really) used medical symbol, not just Army. Doesn't the cadeuceus appear on the AMA logo or something similarly universal/ecumenical?


#86520 11/11/02 05:06 PM
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I'm under the same impression as Fiberbabe that the cadeuceus is a symbol of the medical profession.

We won't get into the snake symbolism....


#86521 11/11/02 05:25 PM
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Want to see a statue of Mercury inventing his caduceus?
http://pygmalionart.freehosting.net/cgi-bin/i/idracbig.jpg


#86522 11/11/02 08:22 PM
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See also
http://wordsmith.org/board/showthreaded.pl?Cat=&Board=words&Number=74223
and follow the thread down a few postings for some sidelights to this theme


#86523 11/11/02 08:27 PM
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So help me, wofahulicodoc, I had completely forgotten. Didn't you think that Mercury was
doing a pretty clumsy job of making his emlem?


#86524 11/11/02 08:35 PM
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I'm not sure I would relish taking on a snake that big with a stick that small. No wonder he was holding it all the way out at arm's length!


#86525 11/11/02 08:50 PM
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I once saw a pair of snakes copulating in deep grass, and grabbed what I thought was just
behind the head of one, but was so far behind that he (or she) turned around and bit me.
The two of them would have half filled a bushel basket. I was so busy trying to persuade
the one biting me to let go, I never thought of trying to make a caduceus of them.
And I was unable to get the faintest clue as to who was doing what to whom. Alas.


#86526 11/12/02 11:57 AM
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But the question is, why do the Brits object to a reference to Mercury as far as symbols of medicine go?


#86527 11/12/02 02:06 PM
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Dear Alex: Surely you will agree that the Brits were entirely justified in holding that only
quacks would use Meercury for medicine.



b


#86528 11/12/02 04:37 PM
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I goofed and put an "e" after the "d" where it does not belong

The evil that men do lives after them, Dr. Bill; the good is oft interred with their bones.


#86529 11/12/02 05:03 PM
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Dear Faldage: I have requested cremation, so that my bones will not be in turd.


#86530 11/14/02 10:47 PM
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Didn't they used to use toxic heavy metals to treat syphilis?

Was the cadeuceus associated with Hermes or Mercury?

Honestly, I don't know what the connection is between medicine and any Roman or Greek god, but I have heard it suggested that the serpent on the staff might derive from the act of removing a guinea worm (Dracunculus medinensis) from a body by means of a stick. This might have been one of the common procedures carried out by early physicians. The worm is also called the "serpent worm," and the connection to the serpent on the cadeuceus seems obvious.


LINKS:

http://mywebpage.netscape.com/teodorcapraru/images/dractreatlube.jpg


http://drblayney.com/Asclepius.html#hermes Very interesting history of Hermes/Mercury and the cadeuceus vs the Staff of Asclepius. e.g.:
In reply to:

The probable medical origin of the single serpent around a rod: In ancient times infection by parasitic worms was common. The filarial worm Dracunculus medinensis aka "the fiery serpent", aka "the dragon of Medina" aka "the guinea worm" crawled around the victim's body, just under the skin. Physicians treated this infection by cutting a slit in the patient's skin, just in front of the worm's path. As the worm crawled out the cut, the physician carefully wound the pest around a stick until the entire animal had been removed. It is believed that because this type of infection was so common, physicians advertised their services by displaying a sign with the worm on a stick.


http://ucdnema.ucdavis.edu/imagemap/nemmap/ent156html/nemas/dracunculusmedinensis

http://www.biosci.ohio-state.edu/~parasite/pictures/dracunculus_3.gif (not for the squeamish)




#86531 11/14/02 11:29 PM
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Dear Alex - A very fine post. I did parasitology in Philippines, but have forgotten almost all
of it. The removal of the guinea worm had to be done very carefully. If the worm were broken,
very disaggreable sensitivity reaction ensued.


#86532 11/18/02 08:17 PM
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Actually it kind of grosses me out to look at those pictures. It's hard to imagine living in a place where parasitic infections are common. There's something really revolting about parasites -- it seems much more personal than an infection by lower life forms.


#86533 11/18/02 11:37 PM
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In WwII in the Philippines, in Parasitology Lab the biggest part of our workload was testing
stools of Filipinos who had appled for jobs as food handlers. Three out of every four had
one or more intestinal parasites, and many had three or even four. A black market in
parasite-free stools developed. Some mornings we got specimens that were obviously
one stool cut into four pieces. Despite my being very careful, I acquired a Ascaris infestation
and lost 40 pounds before I was able to get Rx. And I got it only by threatening to go see
Adjustant Gen. rep about penicillin being sold in black market. "Oh, well, if you're going to
be a sorehead!' The excuse was that it was needed for POW kids. They needed it, but so
did I. I could hardly walk up the three flights of twenty steps each going from chow tent to
my work area. At least I didn't get filariasis and beachball size scrotum. (I did assist at post
of a guy who disregarded signs and swam in water loaded with schistosomes.)


#86534 11/19/02 06:33 AM
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It never quite goes away, does it?


#86535 11/19/02 02:29 PM
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Giardia was so common in the absence of symptoms that in those days it was not
considered necessarily a pathogen.

Single-celled protozoan parasite. Pear- or beet-shaped, the cells have
two nuclei and eight flagella, and attach to human intestinal mucous
membrane with a sucking organ. They cause the disease giardiasis.
Generally spread by ingesting traces of human feces containing the
parasite, giardiasis is most common among children in close contact
with other children, but also occurs among adults. Diarrhea, pain, and
distension of the stomach may occur. It is common wherever there is
contamination of surface or domestic water in lakes, rivers, and
reservoirs, and is a major cause of diarrhea worldwide. Beaver feces
are often responsible for giardiasis among campers who take water
from lakes and rivers.






#86536 11/21/02 06:37 PM
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Numbers 21 also contains a story about a snake on a pole-- God sent venomous snakes to punish the Israelites for complaining about everything, but relented when they repented. God instructed Moses to make a snake out of bronze and put it up on a pole, and those who were bitten could look at it and live.
Later in the Bible (2 Kings) it is mentioned that the people had saved the snake, named it Nehushtan* and were burning incense to it. King Hezekiah put a stop to that by breaking the snake into pieces.

*according to the footnote, Nehushtan sounds like the Hebrew for bronze and snake and unclean thing.


#86537 11/21/02 07:33 PM
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Dear Rapunzel: so good to see you posting again. I was afraid you had left us. Bill


#86538 11/21/02 07:40 PM
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God instructed Moses to make a snake out of bronze

Wait a minute! Was this before or after He told Moses not to make any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth?


#86539 11/21/02 08:57 PM
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Moses got the Ten Commandments in Exodus. The events of Numbers come later.
Let us not blaspheme by accusing the Lord of being inconsistent.



#86540 11/21/02 09:48 PM
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Wait a minute! Was this before or after He told Moses not to make any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth?

After. To quote the First Commandment: "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them..."
(My emphasis)

I think the point lies not in whether or not you make a representational sort of object, but in whether or not you worship said object. The Israelites clearly broke the commandment when, long after Moses made the snake, they began to reverence it as an idol/deity.

That said, the commandment does seem to imply that representational art is forbidden. I guess Moses was allowed to make the snake because he got special permission from God. But I'm certainly no theologian.


#86541 11/22/02 12:50 AM
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Clearly the works of Mondrian were destined to remain kosher.

On a side note, what is the name of the symbol that depicts a snake eating its own tail?


#86542 11/22/02 12:56 AM
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snake eating
its own tail, is called the Ouroboros


#86543 11/22/02 03:40 AM
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In reply to:

I once saw a pair of snakes copulating in deep grass, and grabbed what I thought was just
behind the head of one


So, Dr. Bill Theiresias, who gets the most pleasure out of sex, men or women?

Bingley



Bingley
#86544 11/22/02 02:12 PM
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One night when I was switchboard operator after midnight, a saucy student nurse told
me the answer to that. She said:"Suppose your ear itches, and you gently insert your
little finger and rotate it, it feels good, doesn't it? But which feels the better, your
finger or your ear?"


#86545 11/22/02 02:38 PM
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wwh:

Only you.

Honestly, I shouldn't encourage you at all, but sometimes your humor is to blessedly consistent that I laugh out loud in spite of myself!

How we've gone from the cadeuceus to Mercury to snakes to fingers in ears!

Ha! Best laugh all morning. Don't think I'll have one better.


#86546 11/28/02 02:43 PM
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Well, I haven't read the whole way through this thread, but I'm surprised that, as far as I got, there has been no mention of the possible relation of the caduceus with Hinduism, chakras and kundalini energy. The serpent rising up the staff is symbolic of chi rising upwards through the chakras. And just so we don't get to ethnocentric, the snake is a female symbol in many cultures, in this case one of robust wellness....

oh, and Happy Thanksgiving....


#86547 11/28/02 03:02 PM
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Dear magi;maria:I am completely ignorant of Hindu symbolism. Interesting that snakes have
been such important symbols in many cultures. They hide from us, and we attribute magic
to them.


#86548 11/28/02 05:40 PM
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wwh,

Well, I'm certainly no expert, but the serpent is a female symbol of fertility and healing/nurturing power in many ancient traditions (celtic also) I believe. Freud screwed the whole thing up with his paternalistic myopathy (sp?). Anyway, the serpent (chi/healing, primal lifeforce) powering up the staff (skeletal structure) weaving together the sum of the parts to release in nirvana/ecstasy/completeness....whew! I like that better than the Roman thing. But I'm sure its all related.... (you'll have to add in all my emoticons, color highlights and italics until I figure that stuff out. I've had a tutorial already, but it hasn't happened for me yet).


I'm in between putting the bird in and peeling the potatoes....



#86549 11/28/02 06:02 PM
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Dear magimaria: I personally do not feel the emoticons help enough to be worth the trouble.
Freud may have figuratively been myopic. I think his principal value at this point is that he
made the shrinks think harder, if only to put him down. Simply no evidence his therapy works.
Myopathy means disease of muscles.
Did you see that news item a few months ago about a highly qualified lady chemist working
with d;methyl mercury, I think it was, and having a spill penetrate her glove and skin fast enough
that she died, apparently in spite of prompt medical attention. I wish more details had beeh given.


#86550 11/28/02 07:25 PM
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Dear wwh,

well, you have jumped around here, haven't you. I can see we're not going anywhere near the celts today!

And I should know better with this group then to just throw out words carelessly (I'm a bit careless, in the end) but I think you got the gist of what I meant.

I do stand corrected, and am in here with you AWADies to learn more words, and certainly, a lot more.

And how did you seague (SP? correct me here...I know its coming) to the lady chemist's demise? I'm afraid I didn't follow that thread....

Back to the dinner preparations...time to set the table and have the cook's first mimosa.

See ya




#86551 11/28/02 08:17 PM
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Dear magimaria: I sent you a PM.


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