We're unable to sign you in at this time. Please try again in a few minutes.
We were able to sign you in, but your subscription(s) could not be found. Please try again in a few minutes.
There may be a problem with your account. Please contact the AMA Service Center to resolve this issue.
Contact the AMA Service Center:
Telephone: 1 (800) 262-2350 or 1 (312) 670-7827  *   Email: subscriptions@jamanetwork.com
Error Message ......
Article |

The Symbol of Medicine: Aesculapius or Caduceus?

Rade Nicholas Pejic
JAMA. 1996;275(16):1232. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03530400020029.
Text Size: A A A
Published online


To the Editor.  —Since antiquity, the Aesculapian staff has served as a symbol of medicine and the art of healing. The emblem is depicted by a single serpent coiled around a rough, knotty staff. For various reasons, the symbol of medicine is often misrepresented as the caduceus, a winged staff with 2 intertwined serpents. Though similar in appearance and today often used interchangeably, the staffs have neither the same meaning nor the same origin.The origin of the Aesculapian staff is subject to broad speculation. However, there are 3 accounts that suggest its origin. The first is from Greek mythology.1 In this myth, Aesculapius, the Greek god of medicine, observes a serpent placing a magical herb in the mouth of a dead snake. The herb brings the snake back to life.The second account, also from mythology, maintains that the god Aesculapius was imported to Rome (circa 295 BC)


Sign in

Purchase Options

• Buy this article
• Subscribe to the journal
• Rent this article ?




Also Meets CME requirements for:
Browse CME for all U.S. States
Accreditation Information
The American Medical Association is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The AMA designates this journal-based CME activity for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM per course. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. Physicians who complete the CME course and score at least 80% correct on the quiz are eligible for AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM.
Note: You must get at least of the answers correct to pass this quiz.
Please click the checkbox indicating that you have read the full article in order to submit your answers.
Your answers have been saved for later.
You have not filled in all the answers to complete this quiz
The following questions were not answered:
Sorry, you have unsuccessfully completed this CME quiz with a score of
The following questions were not answered correctly:
Commitment to Change (optional):
Indicate what change(s) you will implement in your practice, if any, based on this CME course.
Your quiz results:
The filled radio buttons indicate your responses. The preferred responses are highlighted
For CME Course: A Proposed Model for Initial Assessment and Management of Acute Heart Failure Syndromes
Indicate what changes(s) you will implement in your practice, if any, based on this CME course.


Some tools below are only available to our subscribers or users with an online account.

0 Citations

Sign in

Purchase Options

• Buy this article
• Subscribe to the journal
• Rent this article ?

Related Content

Customize your page view by dragging & repositioning the boxes below.