cadeceus

OH SHIT

I looked at other peoples’ UU posts, and did some more research, because I keep forgetting there are 13 zodiac things now.

So. Ophiuchus, the 13th zodiac. Makes buckets of sense. Because while I’m sure some of you have seen the symbol of Ophiuchus as the U with a squiggly through it, he has another one too. See, the constellation itself is a man holding a snake. In Greek mythology, Ophiuchus, the snake wrestler, was equated with Asclepius, the God of Medicine and Healing, who used snakes in his medical practices.

Okay. So. Asclepius’s symbol is basically a cadeceus with just one snake encircling it, which, then, is another symbol for the constellation Ophiuchus.

And the traditional sign for Asclepius’s field of practice, medicine and healing, is a full cadeceus.

Very interesting, no?

Detail, John W. McCormack U.S. Post Office and Courthouse, Boston, Massachusetts
from Library of Congress

Close-up of a cadeceus, one of several set into the facade.

Here’s a context pic I took myself, along with some research I did to explain why the cadeceus is on a building that’s not medical.

I was puzzled at the repeated use of the cadeceus, usually associated with medicine, until I read this explanation on Wikipedia (key words in bold):

The caduceus is the staff carried by Hermes in Greek mythology. The same staff was also borne by heralds in general, for example by Iris, the messenger of Hera. It is a short staff entwined by two serpents, sometimes surmounted by wings. In Roman iconography it was often depicted being carried in the left hand of Mercury, the messenger of the gods… As a symbolic object it represents Hermes (or the Roman Mercury), and by extension trades, occupations or undertakings associated with the god

About the Building

Built in 1932-1934, the building (formerly the McCormack U.S. Post Office and Courthouse) is at Post Office Square and is mostly glad in granite. It was entered in the National Register in 1987. See more photos and info on the Boston Art Deco Society’s web site. View it via Google Street View.

From LoC:

Built in 1931-1933. Architect: Cram & Ferguson. Building consists of three towers rising above a five story base. It is 16 stories tall. The exterior is an excellent example of Art Deco institutional design.