QUESTION – In Red Tape’s adaptation of Dog in a Manger, a philosopher speaks of a snake affixed to the soil by “the staff of Hermes.” What is the origin of this tale?
ANSWER – The staff of Hermes, or caduceus, comes from Greek myth. The traditional image depicts a staff with wings and two snakes wrapped around it. Another Greek symbol, the rod of Asclepius, features a single snake round a staff and no wings. The American Medical Association includes the latter in its logo, and both have been associated with healing.
While snakes have been gods, or battled gods, in many ancient religions and myths the Greek god Hermes is said to have used his staff to split two warring snakes, bringing peace between them. Hermes was known as the messenger of the gods and a protector to athletes, travelers and thieves.
In Dog in a Manger the servant Tristan comes across the story during his travels. He seeks to bring peace to his unstable home and separate the furious lady of the household from her equally dangerous foes. What he finds on his travels solves one problem, and causes others.
Paul G. Miller
For more information on Dog in a Manger visit here:www.redtapetheatre.org.