Caduceus (Greek Kerykeion)

The caduceus is a wand or rod entwined at one end by two serpents, whose body folds form two half circles. It is a symbol of peace. According to Livy, it was held by the caduceator, a diplomat negotiating peace.


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CADUCEUS, or Caduceum, a wand or rod, entwined at one end by two serpents, each of whose bodies folds again in the form of two half-circles, whilst the head passes above the wand. It was an attribute peculiar to Mercury. Prudence is generally supposed to be represented by these two serpents, and the wings which are sometimes added to the Caduceus, are the symbols of diligence, both needful qualities in the pursuit of trade and commerce, which Mercury patronized. It was also the symbol of peace and concord, which that deity is related to have received from Apollo in return for the lyre.
The Caduceus is found on the Roman family coins of Cestia, Claudia, Licinia, Plaetoria, Sepullia----and in the Imperial series, on the coins of Julius Caesar, Augustus, M. Antony, Tiberius, Nero, Vespasian, Titus, Domitian, Nerva, Trajan, and Postumus.
The Caduceus in the hand of Mercury is seen on coins of the Emperors Tiberius (Colonial), Antoninus Pius, Marcus Aurelius, Herennius Etruscus, Hostilian, Gallienus, Postumus (MERCVRIO FELICI), Claudius II Gothicus, Numerian, &c.
The Caduceus in the hand of a female figure, such as the personifications of Felicity, Peace, Concord, and Security, appears on coins of the Emperors, from Julius Caesar and Augustus to Constantine the Great.
The Caduceus between two cornucopia indicates Concord, and is found on medals of Augustus, M. Antony, Vespasian, Titus, Domitian, Nerva, Antoninus Pius, Marcus Aurelius, and Clodius Albinus.---- On a coin of Augustus we see three hands joined; with a caduceus, the fasces, the sacrificial axe, and globe----thus associating the caduceus with other symbols of power.
A Caduceus and two corn-ears, held by two right hands joined, is also seen on coins of the early empire, as on a large brass of Drusus jun. and in the instance of the FIDES PVBLICA, silver of Titus, and second brass of Domitian. See also Mercury.

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