The caduceus (kerykeion in Greek) was a herald’s staff with two snakes wound around it. It was carried by Hermes to signify his role as messenger and as guide for souls to the Underworld. Hermes sometimes used the caduceus as a way to channel his powers, such as waking or putting mortals to sleep [Homer, Iliad, 24.343-345]. It should be carefully distinguished from the rod of Asclepius, which had only one snake and was used by Asclepius in healing.
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