About Our Name and the Engraving of Asclepius

The Name, “Iasis Partners”

In modern times, we use “-iasis” as a noun suffix to form a word that describes a medical condition or disease, usually morbid.  The meaning was not always so.  

Approximately 3000 years ago, “iasis,” as we presently spell it, came into usage as a feminine noun, “ïασις,” meaning, (first), “cure or remedy,” and, (second), “repair or mend.”  

Iasis Partners is of course concerned with both usages, but our name derives from the more hopeful first use of the term.  

The Engraving of Asclepius: Was He God or Human?


In our banner, Asclepius, with his single-snake staff, is approached by Hermes (Mercury to the Romans) and a merchant.  Asclepius casts a look of disdain toward Hermes who is associated with alchemy and the occult.  Asclepius, a skilled physician, is concerned solely with healing.  

To Asclepius’ left are the three Graces – his daughters Meditrina, Hygeia, and Panacea, who symbolize, respectively, medicine, cleanliness, and healing.  Their names are assimilated into countless languages and cultures throughout the world, the symbology unchanged.  

The character known as Asclepius was one of the earliest Greek gods known to specialize in healing but was almost certainly an actual person, a physician who practiced in Greece in approximately 1200 BCE.  Homer mentions Asclepius and his sons, as persons, in the Iliad.  Asclepius was deified several hundred years later.  

A common theme from Mediterranean (and now Western) literature explains the blurred distinction.  This theme is that mortal men, for a price, may occasionally borrow power from the gods to delay death, to prevent it, or even to undo it.  In the literature, the price for the latter, or for immortality, or for even the attempt of either, has usually been very dear.  

The Staff of Asclepius v. The Caduceus as Symbols of Medicine

The current “twin-snake” Caduceus symbol used by many commercial medically-related organizations, mostly in the United States, is contrary to the historical use of it.  Academic and guild organizations in the U.S. generally, and correctly, use the “single-snake” symbol.  

Traditionally, the twin-snake model was the sign of Hermes, an occultist who would today be seen as rejecting scientific fact in favor of the irrational.  The single-snake model is the more authentic to medicine, and for a good reason.  

In ancient times, as in parts of sub-Saharan Africa today, Guinea worm disease (dracunculiasis) afflicted humanity.  Due to efforts by international organizations, the Guinea worm may soon follow smallpox into extinction.  The Guinea worm life cycle includes a phase characterized by eruption of the worm from the skin in a blister, and treatment involves winding the worm around a stick slowly to speed removal.  The process requires skill and may take days or weeks.  

The same method has been used for thousands of years.  Physicians in the time of Asclepius advertised their abilities in treating this disease with the symbol of the worm wound around a stick, and this is by far the most likely derivation of the single-snake symbol.  

The confusion between Hermes’ two-serpent caduceus and the Staff of Asclepius was apparently introduced in the United States by the military in 1851, and continues to present day.