The staff carried by Hermes/Mercury, which known as the Caduceus, is one of my favorite symbols. For those that are visual thinkers I have pictured it below:

The Caduceus

I am planning on getting a tattoo of the Caduceus in the near future. Before I ink my body with the symbol, I wanted to know what, if any, negative connotations are associated with the symbol?

I am familiar with the story of Mercury and Larunda (Though I have never read the actual story) and how sometimes this is interpreted as rape. I don't know if that story is Greek and Roman, or just Roman; an answer to that question would also be a helpful tidbit of knowledge.

However, my main reason for asking this question is that I would like to learn if there are any other negative connotations connected to this symbol.


2 Answers 2


Well over here it has one:

Since the caduceus is associated with Hermes, conductor of the dead, "purists" think it has rather a negative connotation to be associated with medicine. Asclepius, the God of Healing, is the real traditional symbol.


The kerykeion, or (Latin)caduceus is a symbol of Hermes. Hermes is the god of travel, borders, thieves, trade, messages, sports/athletes and is a guide to the Underworld.

So, apart from thievery and death, I'd say you are fine to god a tattoo if you really want it.

  • 1
    The emblem pictured by OP is part and product of the confusion between Hermes' wand and the staff of Asklepios. In ancient art, Hermes' wand is usually represented as featuring neither any snake nor any wing: e.g., here, though the same Wiki article captions this picture (with both snakes and wings) as of a Roman copy of a C5BC Greek original. Commented Nov 7, 2017 at 23:55

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