The Caduceus embodied the Mercurian attributes. The wings represented transport, the serpents represented duplicity and guile, and the pressurized hollow shaft of poisonous vapor represented unexpected instant death.

CADUCEUS, em­blem of the health care in­dus­try; orig­i­nal­ly a cthon­ic de­vice wield­ed by Mer­cury (né Her­mes), the god of busi­ness and en­ter­prise, who was re­spon­si­ble for the traf­fick­ing of souls be­tween the earth­ly plane and the un­der­world, and the rit­u­al un­bur­den­ing of them from their pe­cu­niary en­cum­brances.

After the col­lapse of the clas­si­cal or­der and sub­se­quent dis­so­lu­tion of the Olympia­ic theur­gy in A.D. 426, pos­ses­sion of the item du­ly passed to the church in Rome, where it re­mained un­til its ac­ci­den­tal demise at the hands of in­vad­ing Napoleon­ic troops in 1798. A sur­viv­ing frag­ment, con­sist­ing of the cen­tral rod with a sin­gle ser­pent (of­ten in­cor­rect­ly called the Rod of As­cle­pius), even­tu­al­ly made its way to the Unit­ed States, where it would trans­form the fledgling ther­a­peu­tic arts.

The non-con­duc­tance of souls and their tem­po­ral as­sets is now gen­er­al­ly un­der­stood to be a grave en­vi­ron­men­tal haz­ard, es­pe­cial­ly in cities where over­crowd­ing and in­suf­fi­cient drainage risks harm­ful ac­cu­mu­la­tion of psy­choe­co­nom­ic residues. As a re­sult, the twen­ti­eth and twen­ty-first cen­turies have seen a pro­gres­sive phas­ing out of hos­pi­tals in fa­vor of fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions which pro­vide a wide range of ser­vices in ad­di­tion to the oc­ca­sion­al cur­ing of dis­ease.

Categories: ,