According to mythology, Aesculapius, the Greek god of healing, was the son of Apollo and a pupil of Chiron the centaur. He had human form and carried a staff with a single serpent wreathed around it, but after his death, caused by a lightning bolt thrown by Zeus, he was depicted by the staff and serpent. Thus the term, Aesculapian staff. The staff is a rough hewn cypress branch entwined by a single snake, two elements common to the Greek isles. The cypress represents strength and solidity and is perhaps in reference to the unwavering ethic of the physician. The snake is a symbol of many things but probably embodied Aesculapius religious connection to the depths of the earth and symbolized his wisdom a wisdom which involved both extensive knowledge and prudent action. Aesculapius was mentioned in the writings of Homer as a mortal physician-hero who performed miraculous acts of healing on the battlefield. Aesculapius was awarded a divine rank as the god of medicine.
The Caduceus, which is often used as a symbol of medicine, actually has no historical basis for such usage. The origin of the Caduceus can be traced back to Greek and Roman mythology. The symbol began as the magical rod of the Greek messenger-god Hermes (or the Roman god, Mercury). Hermes was a diplomat and an ambassador and was believed to be a bringer of peace. The Romans used the Caduceus as a symbol of peace and described a myth in which Hermes (Mercury) threw his rod between two fighting snakes and stopped their battle, at which point they wrapped themselves around the rod. The symbol of the wings came about because of the image of Hermes (Mercury) as a swift messenger.
Information compiled from JAVMA, Jan 1, 1971, pg 9 & 45., MSJAMA, Vol. 281, pp. 476-477, Feb 3, 1999.
Mosaic initiated and designed by Robert C. Baugh, K-State '65.
Mosaic assembled by the "Mosaic Class", a KSU art class, under the student leadership of Carol Brodston Kasselder.
CVM logo initiated by Donald M. Trotter, K-State '57; Dean '71-'84.
CVM logo initiated by Ron J. Marler, K-State '73; Dean '94-'97.
CVM logo initiated by Ralph C. Richardson, K-State '70; Dean '98–2015.