in ancient Greece or Rome, "herald's staff," 1590s, from Latin caduceus, alteration of Doric Greek karykeion "herald's staff," from keryx (genitive kerykos) "a herald," probably a Pre-Greek word. Token of a peaceful embassy; originally an olive branch. Later especially the wand carried by Mercury, messenger of the gods, usually represented with two serpents twined round it and wings. Related: Caducean.
The caduceus is a symbol of peace and prosperity, and in modern times figures as a symbol of commerce, Mercury being the god of commerce. The rod represents power; the serpents represent wisdom; and the two wings, diligence and activity. [Century Dictionary]
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