It's all Greek
Benjamin McNeillis brings some classicism back to medicine
- By: Benjamin McNeillis
We are all familiar with “the medical symbol”—that thing with the snake wrapped around a staff. This is the rod of Asclepius, the official symbol of doctors around the world. Asclepius, the son of Apollo, is the Greek god of medicine and healing. He is thought by some to be the first doctor. The original Hippocratic oath begins “I swear by Apollo the physician and by Asclepius.” The first followers of Asclepius opened a sanctuary, known as “the Asclepion,” which pilgrims visited to be healed. On arrival they would spend the night on the floor, often sharing it with non-venomous snakes. In the morning they would tell the priest their dream—that is, the “doctor” would take a history—and would give them medical advice.
Although most doctors' professional bodies use the rod of Asclepius as their symbol,1 76% of commercial medical companies and drug makers use the Caduceus. This is a