was the staff or mace carried by Greek heralds and ambassadors in time of
] (Pollux, 8.138;
.) This name is also given to the staff with which Hermes or
Mercury is usually represented. The caduceus
Hermes bearing the Caduceus. (|
Museo Borbonico, vol.
vi. pi. 2.)
was originally only an olive branch with garlands (στέμμαρα
), which were afterwards formed into
snakes. (Müller, Archäol. der Kunst,
504.) Later mythologists invented tales about these snakes. Hyginus
2.7) [p. 1.323]
tells us that Mercury once found two snakes fighting, and separated them
with his wand; from which circumstance they were used as an emblem of peace.
; Plin. Nat. 29.54
From caduceus was formed the word caduceator,
which signified a person sent to treat for peace (Liv.
; Nep. Hannib.
; Amm. Marc. 20.7
; Gel. 10.27
). The persons of the caduceatores
were considered sacred (Cato, ap. Fest. s.v. Cic. de Orat. 1.46
, 202). The caduceus was
not used by the Romans. They used instead verbenae
carried by the Fetiales (Dig. 1
, tit. 8, s. 8).