NATIONAL LIBRARY OF MEDICINE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY NATIONAL LIBRARY OF MEDICINE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Alchemy. The naked figure is the god Mercury or Hermes, the messenger of the gods. In each hand he holds a caduceus, his symbol. The two other men carry a sword with a serpent wrapped around it, and a sword with a cockerel on it; these are both symbols associated with Aesculapius, the god of medicine. The Sun and Moon represent the two alchemical essences. In Greek mythology, Hermes was believed to have power over sleep and dreams. Aesculapius was believed to dispense medical knowledge by using dreams. Image from 1677.
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